‘It’s become very much a community collaborative project,’ organizer says
Kevin Elliott-Snow will celebrate the new year at the Winter Emergency Shelter as part of his New Year’s Eve Unhoused Project. On that night, he will distribute up to 200 goodie-like gift bags for anyone experiencing homelessness.
“I thought New Year’s was the perfect time to do a little something special to just say, ‘Welcome to the year. Here’s a little hug, here’s a little hope, here’s a little handshake to welcome you to the new year,’” he said.
A ready-to-heat cup of soup, a soft pair of gloves, a new toothbrush, a fresh orange — the items in the bags are intended to bring comfort. And Elliott-Snow has recruited everyone close to him to help pull off the project, though convincing came easy, he said.
“I’ve got my family working on it. I’ve got friends and neighbors — it’s become very much a community collaborative project,” he said.
Among the project’s supporters are the Lawrence Democratic Socialists of America, who contributed $300 at the project’s launch, and have since solicited donations from the community.
The Unhoused Project resonated with DSA members because homelessness is an outcome any worker could experience, said Kirby Evers, the group’s secretary.
“If you’re not productive enough, if you’re not working hard enough, if you’re not doing enough jobs, for minimum wage labor — it’s possible that any of us could end up in that camp and that shelter and so our hearts really do go out to the people who are suffering in those places,” Evers said. “We’d all rather they’d be housed. We’d rather they’d be living fulfilling lives. But that’s not going to happen as long as they’re in the streets, as long as they’re just trying to make ends meet to survive.”
The project has highlighted the generosity of the Lawrence community, Evers said.
Owners of local shops — including the Raven Book Store, which donated books and stickers, and La Estrella, which donated groceries — have affably contributed.
“It’s been a spiritual moment of solidarity,” Evers said.
The moment isn’t over yet. For the next couple of days, Elliott-Snow will continue to gather, sort and divide the items for the 200 bags. His living room and garage have been usurped by the undertaking.
“My home has turned into a warehouse of boxes and boxes and boxes of supplies,” he said.
Estimating it takes one hour to assemble 20 bags, Elliott-Snow had 40 more bags to fill Friday morning, and contributions continue to come in.
“It’s a way to embrace help and hope for the new year,” he said.
If someone has something they would like to donate, they can email firstname.lastname@example.org “and I’ll be glad to pick up and deliver donations within the city of Lawrence,” Elliott-Snow said.
If our local journalism matters to you, please help us keep doing this work.
Don’t miss a beat … Click here to sign up for our email newsletters
Chansi Long (she/her), Lawrence life reporter, can be reached at clong (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.
Family struggling with anger after woman’s death at North Lawrence campsite
Lawrence City Commission approves developer’s request to annex land north of Rock Chalk Park to build 300-plus homes
Woman dead at North Lawrence campsite; Times reporter ordered to leave
Lawrence City Commission approves plans for Pallet Shelter Village on former Veritas property
Latest Lawrence news:
Community Children’s Center: Early Childhood Family Resource Fair to return Saturday (Announcement)
“The CCC Early Childhood Family Resource Fair provides an excellent opportunity for parents, caregivers, and families with young children to learn about the various resources available to them in Lawrence,” Will Averill writes in this column for the Community Children’s Center.