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Tuesday, September 27, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesFirst Lady Reaches Out to Homeless With Tiny Tokens of Hope

First Lady Reaches Out to Homeless With Tiny Tokens of Hope

Little things mean a lot. It’s more than a shoulder to cry on, as the song says, though that would be welcome.

First lady Cecile deJongh has something more material in mind. She launched a campaign this week – Tiny Tokens of Hope – to provide care packages for our homeless population.

Gov. John deJongh Jr. declared Monday, Oct. 10, V.I. Homeless Day in recognition of World Homeless Day to raise awareness of chronic homelessness worldwide.

It can start with tiny things most of us take for granted: a toothbrush and toothpaste to start the day off, a small bottle of shampoo, a comb, a washcloth, or a hairbrush.

The first lady noted in a release this week that while food, clothing and other items are regularly donated to the homeless, toiletry items to assist in personal hygiene are often missing.

"Based on the success of the program thus far," she said, "I am pleased to invite the wider community to participate, providing support not only to our homeless population, but also to the service organizations that assist them on a daily basis."

She continued, "’The Tiny Tokens of Hope’ program is a small but effective way to directly assist our homeless population. Especially as the holiday season approaches, it’s a special way that we can all help make a difference."

The first lady urged the public to sort through all those unused toiletries from travel and hotel stays that many of us have sitting around unused and put them to good use. To that end, the first lady said Government House locations on both islands are accepting the items.

While most of us are happy to get rid of unused clothing, or to donate a meal, little things are important to a person’s self esteem. They are things we may not necessarily think about when handing out a dollar to a person in obvious need. A dollar buys a beer, but a toothbrush makes the mouth feel clean. That’s important.

"As a community, it’s important that we take steps to let the homeless know that we care about their well-being and help them reconnect with society to the benefit of all in the territory," deJongh said.

As part of the territorial launch, toiletries were donated earlier Tuesday, to the homeless on St. Thomas, in partnership with the Family Resource Center, and at the Southgate Baptist Church Lighthouse Mission on St. Croix.

"Thanks to the community effort," the first lady said, "more than 300 care packages have been created for distribution to the homeless."

Not many of the island’s homeless hang out on the waterfront anymore; the population has migrated to other neighborhoods, according to the Methodist Outreach and Training Center, the agency tasked with doing a homeless count every two years.

The agency visits the homeless populations in the country, in Savan, Smith Bay, and other locations bringing sandwiches, cold drinks, and empathy, and encouraging the homeless to visit and take advantage of the services they provide.

The first lady noted that Project Homeless Connect will take place on the next three Fridays: Oct. 14, at the UVI Sports and Fitness Center on St. Thomas, Oct. 21; at Nazareth Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cruz Bay on St. John, and Oct. 28; at Rudolph Shulterbrandt Market Complex on St. Croix. The events start at 9 a.m. and last through the afternoon.

The organization is still in need of volunteers. Call the United Way at 774-3185 for more information.

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