Written by: Ember Goodspeed
From the Nipmuc Youth Council
The Massachusetts homeless population has grown considerably, rising to over 40% since 2007 with over 500,000 homeless men, women, and children. However Massachusetts is the only state in our country that entitles every human to have a roof over their head. Only 4% of these unfortunate people are living on the streets and most are living in shelters thanks to this law.
Our youth recognizes and understands the struggles these people have to go through every single day of their lives. Then knowing how hard it must be for them to feel positive. So for the holidays we wanted to bring some joy to them, and make their lives a little better in any way we could. Organizing this fundraiser brought us all together. Helping us to understand how thankful we should be to have family and everything that we could possibly need or want.
The Youth of my tribe (The Nipmuc Youth) got together to raise donations to fill backpacks up with things these people might be in need of. Such as toothpaste, a toothbrush, mouthwash, deodorant, shampoo& conditioner, soap, blankets, backpacks, clothes, Chapstick, combs and brushes, and a pair of gloves with a hat. We ended up raising over $300 to buy all of these “stocking stuffers”.
We can not give enough thanks to the Pathfinder Regional Vocational Technical High School and the Palmer Public Library for raising awareness to our fundraiser. They helped by bringing in donations from students, teachers, and people from the community. It’s truly incredible what can be accomplished with the help of others from our neighborhood. We ended up donating 32 backpacks altogether. 16 of them for boys and 16 of them for women. We also obtained two bins of assorted girls and boys clothing, blankets, extra toiletries, and pillows.
Being homeless is something unfathomable to me. My youth group and elders recognize these fighters and survivors for what they truly are, equal. It is truly astonishing how strong they are to survive this way of life and the conditions they are put through. Letting these people know they are not alone and providing them with what we can, was the least we could do. We hope our goal is reached and to have an annual backpack fundraiser each year.