Homeless outreach group Bethesda Cares was one of three Montgomery County nonprofits to receive 280 boxes of supplies on Thursday to distribute to clients.
“The Shoebox Project offers Bethesda Cares an opportunity to partner with United Way to get supplies to folks who are medically vulnerable and homeless. Many of the people living on the street are long-term mentally ill and/or have substance abuse issues and lack any social support," said John Mendez, Bethesda Cares outreach specialist, in a statement. "They are living in parking garages and sleeping at metro stations. These individuals are extremely medically vulnerable and at risk for death on the street. We use the supplies to build relationships with the people who are mentally ill.”
The shoeboxes will be redistributed to the elderly, veterans and the homeless.
“This is about survival. It’s a personal care item, and they need it to get through their day," Mendez said. "They need personal care items and having these boxes will make their day a little bit easier, a little bit more comfortable. It’s hope for a new day.”
Sixty-five volunteers from local businesses and nonprofits decorated, sorted, assembled and packed the boxes to mark the United Way's annual Day of Action.
“We will use the boxes we receive for the clients of our Elderly Ministries Program," Lynn Arndt, director of development and volunteer services for Community Ministries said in the release. "The people we serve in the program are low-income, frail and generally living alone. Being given a shoebox will mean so much to them. The Shoebox Project is a very special thing. It’s more than just a box. It is a gift, something tangible that provides a connection for the elderly, letting them know that there are people in the community who care about them and they are not alone.”