Bitcoin donations have helped Sean's Outpost, a homeless outreach centre in Pensacola, Florida, to achieve outsized success this year.
Donations flooded in when its founder, Jason King, asked for bitcoin contributions back in March. As 2013 drew to a close, he announced:
"We served 30,000 meals in 2013 and we were able to make a downpayment and pay off the first year's mortgage for Satoshi's Forest, our nine-acre homeless sanctuary. We got a lot done in 2013 for a new charity."
Sean's Outpost raised more than 200 BTC this year from donations, according to King. Now the homelessness activist wants to contribute to the bitcoin community in his own way, by running 5,172 km from Miami to San Francisco to raise funding and awareness about both bitcoin and homelessness.
He said: “It's basically running a marathon a day, every day, for four months."
King is a long-distance running enthusiast who says he has run "several hundred" kilometres before, although this would be the longest run he's attempted.
“We have guys who got off the street because of bitcoin.”
He will set off from the North American Bitcoin Conference which ends on 26th January, in Miami, where the starting gun will be fired.
King will then make his way to Austin, which is 2,166 km or a 19-hour drive away, to speak at the Texas Bitcoin Conference on 6th March.
His support crew for the trip will consist of his wife and three children, who will drive alongside him in the family campervan.
"We're working on the route right now. We'll be planning bitcoin meetups, so anyone can stop by and meet up. We'll have information for people who don't know anything about bitcoin."
King added that he hasn't decided on the finish line yet, but it would be one of the many bitcoin hangouts in San Francisco.
Without a hitch
Given his four month absence from Sean's Outpost, how will the charity fare without its founder's presence?
King stressed that although the media spotlight has been focused on him this year, the charity has a full-time staff of five and a team of 10 volunteers that will keep it running smoothly, no pun intended.
"It should run without a hitch without me there. I'll still be helping out, answering e-mails, but everything can't just go away because Jason King's not there."
King has set the audacious goal of raising 1,000 BTC over the course of the run, he said: “I know it's a lot to expect in four months, but homelessness is a big problem."
Sean's Outpost currently works with more than 400 homeless people in Pensacola, a city with a population of about 461,000. Some of these people have remained ambivalent about bitcoin, while others have embraced the cryptocurrency. King said:
"We have guys who got really into bitcoin. They're on reddit and forums all the time. We have guys who got off the street because of bitcoin."
According to King, of the 200 BTC raised by his charity this year, almost all of it has been spent. Sean's Outpost has, however, maintained a reserve fund of 30 BTC, which it intends to hold as an investment.
The continuing media attention on the organisation, which is named after King's "best friend" Sean Dugas, who was murdered in 2012, has made King uncomfortable, although he is trying to capitalise on it for his activism. He is working on opening up Sean's Outposts in other cities.
"[The media attention] has been a little awkward, because I like to focus on the work I do. But I'm asking people all over the world to believe in what we're doing, so communicating back is an important part of the relationship."
CoinDesk previously reported on Justas, a "voluntarily" homeless man in Spain who uses bitcoin and other technology tools to sustain his way of life.
Marathon Image via Shutterstock