What would you do if you lost everything?
Think about it.
Basic necessities like your toothbrush and band aids are all gone.
That’s the reality Dona’e Albert experienced on Valentine’s Day back in 2013, when her family’s house went up in flames.
“I know what it’s like to start from nothing and I don’t like that people feel that way, so I want to be able to make a difference and help someone out,” said Albert.
Dona’e said she’s very thankful for the aid her teachers at Wheeling Park High School gave her at the time, but some people aren’t as lucky.
This has given Dona’e a passion to help people in need, especially the homeless.
“This project I’m currently working on is called spread the love. It’s a blessing bag drive. So, I’ve collected over 400 bags. My original goal was only 200 and we have a bunch of supplies to make into bags as well,” Albert said.
These Ziploc bags are filled with basic necessities including a small water bottle, granola bar, mini first aid kit and a note of encouragement.
The notes are meant to encourage people to keep going and to let them know they’re not alone.
“I think it’s really important to personalize these kind of things instead of just downgrading people to a number. It’s important to go out and learn these people’s names, know their story, rather than just looking at them on the side of the road when you drive by, then forget about them,” Albert said.
Caring for people is the goal of several organizations in the Ohio Valley.
Take Catholic Charities for example.
This nationwide organization provides dozens of services to people in need, but they also call community members to do the same.
Outreach Worker Corinne Chamberlin said working with the community is what keeps the organization running day to day.
“Without our volunteers and donors, we wouldn’t be able to do all of the things we do. So, this is a great program that she’s doing because everybody needs to brush their teeth, everybody needs to keep their hands clean. We can easily give these bags to folks who walk in the door,” Chamberlin said.
Of course, thanks isn’t what Dona’e is searching for with her “Spread the Love” drive.
Rather, giving out the bags blesses her too.
“My favorite part about giving these bags out is watching peoples’ faces when they get it. I recently gave a bag out to a man who was homeless. As soon as he opened it up, he took out the socks, took off his shoes and put the socks on. He didn’t have any socks on, so it’s just little things like that that can make someone’s day a little easier,” Albert said.
If you’re looking to get involved and serve the community, Catholic Charities is looking for meal drivers for the summer.
For more information, you can contact the Neighborhood Center at (304) 232-7157.