Campaign to collect jackets, blankets for homeless individuals

Every Tuesday and Friday, Kari Womack and Marcus Berry, peer support specialists with Uwharrie Harm Reduction Initiative, spend time with homeless individuals as they are fed at Soul Food/Grace Place in Albemarle, a ministry which serves those struggling and less fortunate.

They have so far connected with around 300 homeless individuals, some of whom are from outside Stanly County, though new people seem to show up each week.

Womack and Berry provide them with clothing, including hats and gloves, along with meeting other basic needs, such as helping them procure proper identification and getting them in contact with primary care doctors.

“We just meet them where they are at,” Berry said.

Womack and Berry have accepted donations in the past from people in the community, but it had always been by word of mouth. Wanting to get more people involved and knowing it is about to get much colder in the coming months, the duo has created a campaign, the Hugs of Love Project, to make sure needs of homeless individuals are met.

Beginning Oct. 11 and running through Nov. 11, Berry and Womack will collect new and gently used jackets and blankets from noon until 5 p.m. at Grace Place, 132 Church St., Albemarle.

“It’s something that has really been weighing on mine and Marcus’ heart because a lot of these people just don’t have the means to go out and buy blankets and jackets,” Womack said. “Anything can help, but we really want new and gently used clothing.”

For those who cannot make it to Grace Place but would still like to help, Berry and Womack can pick up donations upon request.

The jackets and blankets will then given out on Nov. 18.

The plan is for Hugs of Love to be a community-wide event that happens each year.

“This is definitely going to be something big that we will plan to carry on in the future,” Womack said.

For more information, call Berry at 704-977-3884 or Womack at 980-248-5093.