Help for homeless requested

Published 12:02 am Monday, December 30, 2013

NATCHEZ — As they prepare for the Point-in-Time count in late January, the organizers of the homeless census effort are asking residents, churches and businesses to help them build hygiene and food kits.

Kenny Rushing is one of the people helping organize the local effort, and he said the group would ideally like to build between 100 and 150 of the kits.

“We are going to disperse those kits among our teams of surveyors who are going out to do this count,” he said.

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“Our whole purpose is not only to be able to survey people who are homeless, but to provide them with some assistance when we are out there.

“A lot of times these guys are transient and don’t have the availability to have a shower kit with them at all times.”

Items Rushing said the group would like to include are:

4Fast food vouchers

4Dental supplies


4Underwear for both men and women


4Fleece blankets

4Razors (for shaving)

4Small hygiene products such as soap, shampoo and mouthwash

4Hand sanitizer

4Non-perishable snack food such as high protein bars

4Pop-top canned foods or fruit cups.

“Any items with a pop-top lid, a small, single serving, those things are great,” Rushing said. “Somebody living in a campsite can heat them up in a microwave in a convenience store or heat them up over a fire at a camp site.”

The Point-in-Time count has two main goals, to get an accurate count of how many homes people are in the area — which can serve as a factor in determining grant funding for non-profits and some public agencies — and to provide information to the homeless people about services that they might not know are available.

“We have a church partner that will help with prescription medicines, another one that will provide one tank of gas and other resources in the community,” Rushing said. “Someone who is just passing through might not even know where to start looking for these sort of services, and if churches or civic organization — any group out there that offers any type of assistance, no matter how large or small — wants to contact us, we want to team up with them and help them get started with some sort of relief effort.”

The Point-in-Time group also wants to hear from churches and other organizations in the rural areas of Adams, Franklin, Jefferson and Wilkinson counties.

“When you are going to these outlying communities, there is nobody out there, so if a homeless person gets stuck or breaks down, they don’t know who to call for help,” Rushing said.

“If those churches or groups can notify us and let us know who they are and that somebody can reach out to them in these outlying communities, that would be a huge help.”

Rushing said the effort also aims to get a count of those who are homeless but not living on the streets, or who are in danger of becoming homeless — for example, those who are sleeping in cars or moving from temporary living situation to temporary living situation.

“When you ask them, ‘Where did you sleep last night,’ and they say, ‘My friend’s couch,’ there’s a chance they’re homeless,” he said.

The Point-in-Time count will be Jan. 27. Members of the teams doing the count will have to be certified, a process that includes viewing a training video and taking a survey afterward.

For more information about the count or to donate items, contact Rushing at 601-431-2223.