'Blessing Bags' honor spirit of MLK

Gabriella Canales By Gabriella Canales

Jan. 16, 2017 at 9:06 p.m.
Updated Jan. 17, 2017 at midnight

Volunteers put hygiene items into bags that will be donated to the homeless.

Volunteers put hygiene items into bags that will be donated to the homeless.   Barclay Fernandez/bfernandez@vicad.com for The Victoria Advocate

There was no place Leah Bishop would rather have spent her Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday than inside the four walls of Our Saviour's Lutheran Church.

As a member of the 4-H Club, the Cuero High School junior enjoys volunteer opportunities, she said. In past years, her service projects have included making her own care bags she donated to local churches.

"It makes me feel happy," said Leah, 16.

Leah was among 15 people who participated in the Victoria Area Homeless Coalition and The Humility Project event, Blessing Bags and Change, on Monday at the church, 4102 N. Ben Jordan St., to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Gray, green and blue storage containers at 11 a.m. held about 100 bags filled with hygiene items.

Another volunteer looking to make a difference was Beckey Gooden, of Seadrift.

"This is dear to my heart," Gooden said.

When she lived in Austin, Gooden was able to see the large numbers of its homeless population, she said.

"All of us are just two to three paychecks away from being homeless," Gooden said. "Even if it will last them for a few hours, we are going to hand them something from our heart."

This is the third year the organizations have hosted the service event, said Kim Pickens, homeless advocate and board member of the Victoria Area Homeless Coalition.

"People will be so happy to get this," said Lisa Griffin, president of the coalition. "It just warms my heart."

The bags will be distributed Jan. 26 during the organization's annual Point in Time count, a 24-hour period of counting the homeless who are sheltered and unsheltered, Griffin said.

The coalition will conduct a count of both sheltered and unsheltered homeless in Victoria and Calhoun counties. Volunteers will observe and survey people experiencing homelessness.

Last year's count was 198 people, Pickens said.

"I feel we are doing something the community expects us to to care for its citizens," Griffin said. "It's important to raise awareness and let the community know about the need."



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