WHEELING, W. Va. (WTRF)
Dozens of social service agencies and businesses set up booths inside Wesbanco Arena Thursday with free items and information to help the homeless brave the elements this winter.
“We have people here such as Helping Heroes, the YWCA, Aetna, Laura Mull with State Farm,” said Melissa Adams, City of Wheeling homeless liaison.
Northwood Health Systems brought basic hygiene supplies plus outdoor camping gear.
“We have a basket that we put together that contains a tent, a sleeping bag, food items that are readily and easily pre-cooked, blankets and winter gear,” said Lisa Crock, crisis services manager with Northwood.
“We just wanted to keep in mind the bare essentials to keep warm, with hand warmers and toboggans and gloves, and also with flashlights for their campsites,” added Sunny West with Wesbanco at The Highlands.
Homeless people walked through and chose what they needed.
It was like shopping with no checkout counter.
They were invited to play chess.
Ryan Adams, the creator of the Chess Clinic, says the game rebuilds brain synapses.
“Drugs tend to make someone isolate,” said Adams. “And this allows someone to kind of break free from that bondage.”
The Soup Kitchen of Greater Wheeling had a Toss For Socks Booth, where everybody won.
And the Mother Jones Center started a painting and asked everyone to add something to it.
“The painting is like a collective piece of art that we like to do at events,” said Ryan Ewing, policy advocate with UpLift WV. “Our theme is What Is Love. Like Dorothy Day said herself, the only solution is love.”
There was ice cream, hand sanitizer, key chains, heated socks, hand warmers and lots of blankets.
The Salvation Army was there letting people know how to sign up for their holiday giveaways.
“They can make an appointment, go to the office, they can get signed up for the Angel Tree, Christmas food, Thanksgiving food,” said Ashley Kotson, community relations director.
If you missed the Fall Outreach Festival and you’d like to help, there are still things they always need—blankets, tarps, flashlights, batteries, warm clothes, socks, clean underwear, sports bras and more.
To find out more about how to donate, you can email Melissa Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org.
They plan to make the Outreach Festival an annual event.