When temperatures hit 20 degrees or below, the St. Louis Homeless Winter Outreach Team (WO), an organization that cares for the homeless, goes out to search for those without shelter. This year, Webster University’s Multicultural Center and International Student Affairs office celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day of service by helping the WO team prepare lunch for the homeless.
The WO team has already gone out 30 times since Thanksgiving. Colette Cummings, director of MCISA said she knew immediately that helping the Winter Outreach was something the Webster community would love to do.
“We always do something to give back every year,” Cummings said. We’re happy to help those who are in need.”
Though Webster campuses were closed on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, events proceeded in remembrance of his legacy throughout the week.
The first part of the event took place at 12 p.m. in the Webster University Center’s presentation room. Students and faculty dropped by between classes to donate blankets, hats, scarves and to help prepare food for the hungry. The menu consisted of baloney sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly, apple sauce, cookies and fruits.
Audio production major Henry Coleman said he was just happy to say he was the cheese man as he prepared sandwiches.
“Every little bit helps,” Coleman said. “I’ve always been the type to want to help the less fortunate.”
After the snack bags were prepared, WO worker Kelly McBride, Winter Outreach loaded the snack bags in to her car to go out to the homeless later that evening. McBride said she enjoys giving and seeing the joy of others.
“If I was homeless, I would want someone to help me,” McBride said. “It’s my duty to serve.”
St. Louis Homeless Winter Outreach Team
The WO searches the streets for homeless people when the weather hits 20 degrees or below. Their goal is to make sure the homeless have food, dry clothing and a place to stay. The team accepts donations at MoKaBe’s Coffeehouse located at 3606 Arsenal.
“We usually meet at MoKaBe’s and then we head out with thick blankets, socks, hot cocoa and just anything to keep them warm,” McBride said.
McBride said once they feed the homeless they offer to take them to a shelter where they can be safe and warm.
At 7 p.m. in the Sunnen Lounge, Holly Schroeder of the WO team came to speak about her personal experience with the homeless. Schroeder said anywhere from a third to a half of the homeless population suffers from mental illness. This year Schroeder was able to get seven shelters to help with housing. But Schroeder said sometimes the homeless would rather stay on the streets.
“Mental illness or substance abuse is the barrier for why they may not want to go or maybe someone they don’t like is there,” Schroeder said.
The St. Louis Winter Outreach Team is always looking for new volunteers, in addition to blankets, hats, gloves, socks, scarves and food. For details on how to help, visit http://www.stlhwo.org/.