Homelessness is a growing problem around the world today, and Shawnee is no exception. In recognition of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week Nov. 14-20, eight senior nursing students from Oklahoma Baptist University reached out to the homeless in the local community as part of an OBU service project titled "Hearts for the Homeless."
OBU senior nursing students compiled and distributed "survival packs" to Shawnee's homeless population on Wednesday, Nov. 17. The students included (from left) Joanna Back, Haley Rachal, Lori Wells, Melissa Wilson, Robyn Rieger, Emily Roberts, Amy Sullivan and Stephanie Guilmette.
Senior nursing majors who participated in the project include Joanna Back from Albuquerque, N.M.; Haley Rachal from Shreveport, La.; Lori Wells from Seminole, Okla.; Melissa Wilson from Wellston, Okla.; Robyn Rieger from Burleson, Texas; Emily Roberts from Guymon, Okla.; Amy Sullivan from Shawnee; and Stephanie Guilmette from Strafford, N.H.
As part of the project, the students assessed the homeless population in Shawnee and found that their biggest need is tangible possessions to keep them warm during this winter. With this knowledge, they set out to collect items to give away.
During OBU's Homecoming basketball games on Saturday, Nov. 13, the students handed out purple "hunger and homelessness awareness" ribbons, and they collected donations of clothing and money. The students hosted a "sock drive" to collect new or gently-used socks because they found that socks were one of the biggest needs for the homeless. Altogether, they were able to raise $1,000 for the program.
The students compiled "survival packs" to give to the homeless population on Wednesday, Nov. 17. The packs included gloves, socks, toothbrushes, toothpaste and various other hygiene products. In addition, the packs included a resource card which contains information about different homeless shelters in Shawnee, places and times when free food is served and suggestions of where they may receive help with any addictions.
The nursing students' goal was to hand out 100 packs to the homeless and, because of their effort and the community's donations, the goal was met.