HOWELL – A teacher at Stone Bridge Middle School in Allentown collaborated with Howell’s schools to spur a town-wide donation drive to help the homeless encampment, Destiny’s Bridge, in Howell. Numerous schools and local businesses have already contributed.
Sixth grade science teacher Mike Reed works in Allentown, but has roots in Howell. One of his children attends Greenville Elementary in Howell, where Reed sits on the PTO board; another one of his children attends Ramtown Elementary, where his wife sits on their PTO board as well, he said.
Reed reached out to his friend, Ray Flewellen, once he caught wind of the article about the Howell homeless in the Jan. 13 edition of The Howell Times. Flewellen volunteers for the Howell PAL (Police Athletic League) alongside Sgt. Chris Hill of the Howell Township Police Department, Reed explained.
“Ray mentioned to me that they (the encampment) were in desperate need of supplies,” said Reed. “Being a member of the Greenville School PTO board, there was no better pedestal to get everyone on board as part of our community outreach program.”
Reed emphasized that this was a collective effort of Howell’s schools and local businesses. “It is not about us, it is about them,” he said, referring to the homeless encampment.
With his wife on the Ramtown PTO board, Reed already had a foot in the door to begin expanding the donation drive throughout the Howell community. The drive began with the Greenville school and then Ramtown quickly jumped on board, he said.
“With some help from the presidents of both schools, we were able to open this up to all the schools, K-8, in Howell,” he said.
The program has already recruited nine elementary schools and one middle school to fill requests for donations to the camp, including: Greenville Elementary, Ramtown Elementary, Ardena Elementary, Land of Pines Elementary, Newbury Elementary, Taunton Elementary, Howell Memorial Elementary, Griebling Elementary, Aldrich Elementary, and Howell Middle School South. These schools will be collecting for the next two weeks.
Not only this, but numerous local business put forth efforts to the cause as well. “The businesses that have donated to our cause are Kohl’s, Stop & Shop, ShopRite, BJ’s Wholesale, and McDonald’s,” said Reed.
While the schools focused on collecting clothing and non-perishable foods, these businesses provided gift cards and monetary donations. Some even went the extra mile, such as Kohl’s. Kohl’s not only donated $500, but also set up a donation box in their employee break room to collect clothing and food.
Other businesses began taking up Kohl’s initiative and added collection boxes to their own locations, Reed said. You can find these boxes at local establishments like Corsi’s Pizza, Jazzercise, Shear Sensations, and the Howell PAL. In addition, a few local families provided generous donations as well.
“(Flewellen) said the shelter is in desperate need of propane to help run the heaters inside their tents,” said Reed.
As of now, the donation drive has brought in blankets, cases of water and PowerAde, canned soup, vegetable juice, deodorant, plastic ware, and a winter jacket, he informed. Reed noted that he sent out a flier to schools, businesses, and residents denoting the specific items that they could donate.
Here is the list of items needed for donation:
- Non-Perishable Food Items: cheese/peanut butter crackers, beef jerky, applesauce, pudding, fruit cups, granola bars, power bars, cereal bars, Chef-Boy-R-Dee items (pull top), ravioli/SpaghettiO’s, single serving soups, Ramen noodles, tomato juice, packaged nuts, trail mix, fruit snacks, dried fruits, peanut butter, pasta, spaghetti sauce, canned vegetables and fruits (pull top), macaroni and cheese, individually packaged chips and pretzels, boxed drinks and juices, pop tarts, individual packets of oatmeal, plastic silverware, zip lock bags, canned tuna and chicken, rice, beans, and bottled water.
- Toiletries: shampoo and conditioner, bar soap, hand sanitizer, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, Chapstick, dental floss, hair brushes and combs, hair ties, and body wash.
- Winter Gear/Supplies: hats, gloves, sleeping bags, Mr. Heater Portable Buddy Heater, socks, long johns and thermals, pillows, jackets, jeans, sweaters and sweatshirts, LED headlamps, propane for gas heaters, batteries (AAA, AA, and D), heavy duty tarps (12X16), fire extinguishers, LED camping lantern, hand and feet warmers, and large heavy duty trash bags.
The drive is still ongoing. If anyone wishes to donate to the homeless, you can do so by bringing items directly to the encampment at 5998 Route 9 in Howell, by contacting Howell PAL, or by donating to the Go Fund Me page at gofundme.com/heat-for-the-howell-homeless.