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Youth, vets reach out to the homeless in the cold

Vietnam VeteransDETROIT — Record-low temperatures exacerbate the survival challenges facing the homeless every day. All across metro-Detroit, churches, schools and other organizations are working to make sure struggling Detroiters aren’t fighting the elements alone.

On Feb. 1, the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 9 and Outcry Youth and Street Ministry will be giving away clothes, food and other items to those in need. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless’ website, “Approximately 40 percent of homeless men are veterans, although veterans comprise only 34 percent of the general adult male population.” The VVA and Outcry event will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at VVA Chapter 9 (2951 Woodward Avenue in Detroit).

Hundreds of blankets, sleeping bags, thermal pants, coats and “bunny boots” will be given away, many of which were donated by Faith Baptist Church in Chelsea, says Brother Joe Hicks, founder of Outcry Ministry. The bunny boots — white military boots with a heavy bottom  —  are designed to ward off the cold. “It’s for homeless folks, needy folks and other agencies,” said Hicks. “We were just so blessed” to receive these items that can be distributed to those who need them the most. Hicks has been actively ministering in the streets since the 70s, serving people in need citywide. Besides clothing, the VVA Chapter 9 will serve food and give away canned goods.

The Mentoring Youth Network, whose members were born decades after Brother Joe Hicks began his ministry, are stepping up as well. MYN, a Detroit mentoring organization for school-aged youth (K-8) will host Project: Warm Detroit on Feb. 15 in Cass Park (behind Cass Tech), located at 2501 Second Ave., beginning at 9 a.m. The youth and their partners, UAW Local 163 Community Service Committee, will be giving away blankets, gloves, hats, socks and canned goods.

“Last year’s Project: Warm Detroit event was a huge event on many levels,” said Tony Weston, Mentoring Youth Network’s founder and president. “Not only were we able to provide clothing and food to hundreds of Detroit’s homeless citizens, but our kids learned a valuable lesson in giving back to those who are less fortunate.” This year’s volunteering students will come from Rutherford Winans Academy (grades K-5) and Ronald Brown Academy (grades K-8), both based in Detroit. “Also, we are hoping to receive enough canned good donations to share with any local food pantry willing to partner with us,”  Weston said.

MYN has begun accepting donations and will continue to accept donations for items until Feb. 14 at Greg’s Barber Shop (22601 Plymouth Road, Redford).

For more information on Outcry Ministry, visit www.brotherjoesyouthandstreetministry.com  or call 313.414.8190. For more information on MYN, or to arrange a more convenient location for donations, please contact Tony Weston at 313.408.9506, or via e-mail at tony@mentoringyouthnetwork.com.

— Staff report

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