Volunteers help homeless Monday
by Paisley Boston
Jan 17, 2014 | 2358 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The American Red Cross and AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America are keeping the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. alive by hosting the "Point in Time Count" project.

"Volunteers go out into the community the very last week in December conducting surveys to determine whether or not a person is homeless," said Director of Volunteers In Service to America J. Nicole Stringfellow.

The event is set to climax on Monday with personal hygiene bag distribution.

"The volunteers will meet at the center for Community and Economic Development on the campus of Delta State University at 8:30 a.m. to prepare personal hygiene bags which will be given to individuals that have been deemed as being homeless according to the surveys," said Stringfellow.

"MLK Day is National Service Day for all national service programs. This project is important because it is a way that we are able to closely align the message of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with the mission of both organizations," she added.

The count also helps to disseminate funding to certain areas according to the number of homeless individuals.

It is mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for communities across the country to receive funding but volunteers from both organizations decided to distribute personal hygiene as part of their effort to help homeless individuals.

According to Stringfellow, they were able to purchase items needed for the personal hygiene bags by using funds that were donated by members of the community.

"We started taking donations for this event in December. The amount of donations received and an accurate count of the number of homeless individuals will not be released until Monday," she continued.

"Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s message was all about trying to empower people by reaching out to the community and lending a helping hand to those in need and we want to keep that dream alive by reaching out to the community," said Stringfellow.

"There are so many individuals that are in position where they are not able to help themselves. The day is going to be all about work and trying to help the needy," Stringfellow added.

The American Red Cross and AmeriCorps VISTA were prompted to start the "Point in Time Count" project after reading a newsletter released by one of the program's national funding source.

"Two years ago we received an e-mail from our national founder with a line of initiatives that they wanted us to focus on for our Martin Luther King Jr. Day of service and we tried to select something different," she said.

'The Point In Time Count' is used to determine the number of homeless people that are dwelling in the Mississippi Delta," said Stringfellow.

"We are accepting donations. If anyone would like to donate, we will be accepting donations on Monday and if you wish to donate before Monday, you may bring your donation to the Community and Economic Development Department which is located on the campus of Delta State University," said Stringfellow.

AmeriCorps VISTA is funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service out of Washington, D.C. and has an annual operating budget of over $450,000.00.

The program consists of two full-time staff and 25 full-time members who are assigned to non-profit agencies throughout the 11 counties of the Mississippi Delta region.