TUPELO – Churches, civic organizations and ordinary people have responded to help the homeless this holiday season.
“This has not been a great economic year for people,” said Salvation Army Director Susan Gilbert. “Everyone has had their financial struggles, but in spite of all of that, people still have done a lot to help the homeless this year. We’ve received a lot of the things we’ve asked for that will help us to better serve the homeless who are staying at the lodge and other places.”
The shelter house 25 people, a few more than capacity, according to Gilbert. Things like disposable razors, shaving cream, deodorant and other toiletries represent the bulk of what’s needed at the shelter.
Despite seeing an increase in giving this year, Gilbert said donations didn’t flow in on a daily basis.
“People are giving, but it comes in spells,” said Gilbert. “We get a little in at a time, but the important thing is that it comes in.”
The city of Tupelo doesn’t have any programs in place to help the homeless, but more than 200 city employees decided to help needy families this Christmas. Employees from various city departments got together to buy gift cards, toys and other things for the less fortunate.
Mayor Jack Reed Jr. said that despite not having a citywide initiative to help the homeless in Tupelo, he has supported The Salvation Army and tried to channel volunteer efforts to the organization.
“Susan Gilbert told me that the shelter is at 109 percent capacity,” said Reed. “We continue to be concerned about the homeless here and with the economy the way it is, it’s a difficult time. I am proud of the generosity of the citizens.”
The Tupelo Kiwanis Club raised $6,000 for The Salvation Army in November in the name of a former club president, the late Jim Ingram. Ingram helped bring The Salvation Army to Tupelo.
“We wanted to do something in the name of Jim and this is what we came up with,” said Rick Maynard, the cuirrent Kiwanis president. “We were pleased to raise the $6,000 to give to The Salvation Army. It’s a great organization that helps many people.”
Since it’s Christmas, Gilbert said each person at the shelter will receive his or her own blanket or throw.
“It’s Christmas and everyone wants something under the tree,” said Gilbert. “So we want to give them these items so they can have something of their own. They can do whatever they please with them, but they will be theirs to keep.”
Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal