RICHMOND, Va. -- A Richmond man is helping the homeless in Central Virginia, one book bag at a time, but not without the help of the community.
“We’re very proud of what we’re able to do," Earnie Taylor said.
For Earnie Taylor, Murphy’s Law Billiards and Sports Pub in Chesterfield County, is not only a place to hang out, but a place to gather donations to hand out to those without a home.
Taylor is the founder of 'Backpacks for the Homeless RVA ' and has been packing bags for those living on the streets for nearly 8 years, with the help of close friends and volunteers.
“It started off the first year with 44 backpacks and this year it has grown to over 800 backpacks that we have packed and put out," Taylor said.
Taylor said community members drop off coats, gloves and even food supplies in bags at the Pub, before packing them into book bags.
"Overall between November 9th and the 28th, we packed 577 backpacks," Taylor said. “We only have 28 backpacks left because there is such a need.”
According to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness , Virginia has more than 55,00 people experiencing homelessness. Taylor believes COVID-19 has caused those numbers to rise.
"Obviously if you look at where the economy is, what the pandemic has done, a lot of that is what has driven that," Taylor said.
Taylor said his organization partners with local churches and businesses to help get donations, but the handouts come on he and his team’s own time and personal car and trailer.
“Right now, it’s that way and we hope we can grow it enough to that we can get a shuttle bus, but we’re just making do with what we got," Taylor said.
His goal now is to help has many people as he can, for as long as he’s able.
“If you’re able to put yourself in a place where you’re able to help out someone else in a very, very bad place, it's extremely rewarding," Taylor said.
Taylor said his organization is always looking for volunteers and donations. You can find more information here.