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How these Richmond groups are working to help people recovering: 'We are just so grateful'

'This is just a chance for us to make women feel loved and empowered and appreciated during the holiday season'
Posted at 5:55 PM, Dec 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-02 18:26:28-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Several non-profit organizations in Richmond are working to help support the mission of another non-profit in the area that serves people recovering from homelessness or addiction.

Thursday, Diversity Richmond donated between $15,000-$20,000 worth of household items to CARITAS, at its South Richmond location the opened last year, to the non-profit's furniture bank.

The furniture bank is a part of CARITAS' range of services that include recovery and workforce programs and men's and women's shelters with the goal of creating, as its mission statement says, "a safe space to heal and time to rebuild."

When people or families CARITAS serves (but they can also come from among the 80 different agencies they partner within Richmond, Henrico, and Chesterfield) are moving into a new home or apartment -- they come to the furniture bank to fill it out.

"Clients coming out of homelessness and other types of crisis come to us when they get their places and we provide furniture to them to help them make their house into a home," said the bank's program manager Sandy Morris. "The clients who come here have all gone through some type of crisis. So, we're really excited to help them start their new life."

Among the items provided are mattresses, dining room sets, dishes, and towels.

Thursday's donation from Diversity Richmond included at least 80 boxes of items.

"We're giving it to CARITAS knowing that they serve about a thousand people who come through their furniture bank a year who need this stuff," said James Millner with Diversity Richmond. "So, we're really thrilled that this is going to go right back into the community to help the people who need it most."

Millner said the donation was part of a larger one they received last month from Amazon -- around $120,000 worth of brand new merchandise.

"It included everything from bedding to clothing to toys to household items. Everything that somebody could use to set up a brand new house or people in need could use if they needed it. So, this is the first disbursement of that donation," said Millner.

Another non-profit that is working to benefit those that CARITAS serves is the Richmond chapter of the Shoebox Project. They are encouraging people to decorate shoeboxes and fill them with about $50 in gifts they will be delivered to the women staying in CARITAS' emergency shelter (which can house up to 28 women at a time).

"This is just a chance for us to make women feel loved and empowered and appreciated during the holiday season," said coordinator Kelsey Smith. "I also have had friends and family experience homelessness. So, it really just warms my heart seeing how they appreciate these little gifts. Stuff that we take advantage of or don't really think of."

Smith said the deadline to contribute to this drive is Dec. 11 and also encouraged people to add personal notes to the boxes as well.

"Letting these women know that they're seen, they're heard. Maybe a personal experience, just to kind of show them that they're not alone and that they were thought of at this time of year," said Smith.

For Morris, she said CARITAS could not do what it does without donations like these and the work of its volunteers.

"We are just so grateful. I can't believe sometimes, so many wonderful people to help us to help our clients," added Morris.

If you would like to help out CARITAS and its mission you can find more information about donating here or volunteering here.