A group of students united to help Oklahoma City’s homeless population.
The group, Give Back OKC, aims to benefit the homeless community in Oklahoma City by giving care packages.
Abby Bryan, acting sophomore, said the idea came to her while she was driving downtown with a friend and discussing the issue of homelessness.
“We were talking about how big of a problem it is and how people not only tend to ignore it, but they make fun of it. We wanted to do something to change that, to help them out. We thought that putting together packages is something that would be beneficial and helpful,” Bryan said.
Bryan talked with Sydney Epstein, acting sophomore, to expand the idea together.
“We’re going to collect donation items and make gift baskets that we’re going to hand out,” Epstein said. “The baskets will include essential items they’ll need: gloves, hats, scarves, toiletries, feminine products, and some things to eat as well.”
The group plans to distribute the packages directly to the homeless on the street and to the Homeless Alliance sometime around Thanksgiving.
“Homeless shelters tend to get overpacked on holidays and actually aren’t able to serve everyone, which makes it first-come, first-serve, so we really want to try and get all those left behind this holiday season,” Epstein said.
Epstein said distributing packages is a way to make the homeless community feel supported.
“There’s so many that are homeless in Oklahoma City, and, though people notice, they don’t take action,” Epstein said. “It’s so important that we do something to help. I would never want to feel like no one cared about me.”
There is an estimated 5,500-7,000 people who experience homelessness in Oklahoma City every year, according to homelessalliance.org. The Oklahoma City Public School District alone had 5,474 children experiencing homelessness enrolled in the 2016-17 academic year.
“I want to put together as many packages as possible. It would be incredible if we had enough people helping out and donating that we could have 50 to 100, or even beyond that,” Bryan said. “I don’t know if that’s too ambitious, but our community is so powerful that, when we’re passionate about things, we get things done.”
A list of items needed is on the group’s Facebook page “Give Back OKC,” including toiletries, socks, underwear, and feminine products.
“We also want to include an individual piece of art or a poem or letter in each care package. Everyone at this school knows the importance of art and how it can change people’s lives, so we want to give them something to hold onto that goes beyond just helping people survive,” Bryan said.
Members of Give Back OKC will collect donations and recruit volunteers from Oct. 18-27 outside the caf.
Students who are interested in getting involved, donating items or contributing art can keep up to date with the organization through their Facebook page. The group also may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.