Little Rock, Arkansas–Several groups of homeless advocates gathered on the grounds of the William J. Clinton Library and Museum today to hand out winter clothes, sleeping bags, toys and blankets to around 1500 homeless and near homeless individuals.
Little Rock Christmas Caravan was first organized 15 years ago by Sandra Wilson of Reach Out. After 12 years, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church and St Mark’s Baptist Church partnered to continue the event. This year, Arkansas Blue and You Foundation awarded a mini grant to cover the costs of hosting the event.
When asked about the event, Christie Powell, Director of Youth Ministry at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, replied, “Every participating group brings something different to the event. Some groups focus on winter coats. Others concentrate on blankets and sleeping bags or baby diapers and formula. Several groups prepare toiletry kits containing toothpaste, toothbrush, hand sanitizer, wet wipes, soap and shampoo. Each group also has its own way of collecting donated items. Some request new items, others collect gently used items. Some groups accept monetary donations for the purchase of toys, others collect toys at business Christmas parties or conduct coat drives among their branch locations. Several groups collect items throughout the year. Others collect during the month of November. Some groups serve breakfast. Many individuals simply come to direct traffic, pick up trash or have a conversation with a perfect stranger just to let them know that they care about them.”
The Christmas Caravan has been described as a “Potluck of Love and Compassion.” According to Powell, “This event gives you the opportunity to ask someone what they need and the opportunity to put that item into their hands.”
Groups interested in helping with next year’s event may contact the organizers through the Central Arkansas Christmas Caravan Facebook page or contact Christie Powell at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in North Little Rock for more information.