Program helps transients, homeless with basics
Donations of towels, backpacks and toiletries can be dropped off at the Amherst Police booth at the mall on Thursday.
© Darrell Cole - Cumberlandnewsnow.com
Const. Michelle Harrison and Const. Tom Wood of the Amherst Police Department help Heather Wilkes and Karen LeBlanc of Empowering Beyond Barriers stuff a backpack with a towel as part of a program to help transients and those without a home. The group is asking people to drop off gently used towels and backpacks as well as toiletries to the police department’s booth at the Amherst Centre Mall on Thursday during Police Week celebrations.
AMHERST – Empowering Beyond Barriers is joining forces to collect towels and other items to be used for backpacks given to transients passing through Amherst or the homeless and displaced that move from couch to couch.
During Thursday’s Police Week celebration at the Amherst Centre Mall, the Amherst Police Department booth will be collecting new or slightly used towels they can use to put in backpacks along with toiletries like shampoo, soap, toothpaste and tooth brushes.
“It’s all about providing a little dignity,” Colleen Dowe of Empowering Beyond Barriers said.
In some cases, transients and those without places to stay are allowed to use the showers at the Cumberland YMCA or the Amherst Stadium. Police and other service agencies will provide backpacks with toiletries in them, but they haven’t included any towels.
“It would be nice to include a towel they can use to dry themselves off after a shower and it’s something they can hold on to and use again,” society member Heather Wilkes of Trinity-St. Stephen’s United Church said.
The backpacks, which have been provided to police agencies, the Salvation Army, the food bank, library, YMCA and Community Services, have been put together by churches like Trinity-St. Stephen’s, as well as by students at the Oxford Regional Education Centre and the early childhood development class at NSCC.
Included in the backpacks are T-shirts, sweaters and toiletries. Program supporters would also like to add towels and even some blankets.
Dowe said approximately 80 backpacks have been given out in three years. She expects more will be distributed once more people are made aware of them. She said it’s very important that people support the program through donations.
The group is also accepting new or gently used backpacks for the program.
The booth will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Amherst Centre Mall.
The Amherst Police Department will also have applications for its Cops for Kids Program at the booth. The program runs from Aug. 11 to 15 at the Amherst Stadium.