WHO ARE OUR PARTICIPANTS IN THIS PROGRAM?
Our homeless friends range in age from young adults to senior citizens. All have a physical, cognitive, or emotional life challenge. Some of the challenges we serve include autism, PTSD, depression, anxiety, behavior disorders, bi-polarism, hearing and vision impairment, development delay, addiction, alcoholism, and more. Most have multiple challenges.
Operation Backpack provides new and gently used backpacks to the homeless (many of whom are veterans) stocked with toiletries, street supplies, and first aid supplies. Operation Backpack is our flagship program, and one that can save lives. Our staff and trained outreach volunteers seek out and identify homeless men and women in the Nashville and surrounding areas, then give the gift of a backpack filled with needed items. As you might imagine, men and women who are homeless are in desperate need of the toiletries, street supplies, and first aid items that are in our backpacks. .
During the past seven years we have distributed hundreds of backpacks annually. If you can envision life without a clean pair of socks, a toothbrush, or a band aid, you can understand how needed our backpacks are. Also, our backpacks are often the first gateway to becoming housed, as we are able to determine other needs, such as medical, mental health, ID cards, and nutrition, and refer to other agencies who can help. Eventually, all of this can lead to housing.
Sometimes, homeless men and women, or those who are in danger of losing housing, or those who have been recently housed, come to our learning center to learn job and life skills. From learning affect and respect, teamwork, leadership, goal setting and follow through, our farm-based learning center and therapy animals change lives.
Of course, none of this could happen without you. We need outreach volunteers, volunteers to help collect items for the backpacks, and volunteers to help fill the packs. From 4-H and church groups to businesses and other organizations, we rely on you to help us make a difference. Please contact us if you are interested in helping with Operation Backpack.
We also need backpacks, toiletries, and first aid supplies! Men and women who are homeless often do not have basic necessities such as soap, toothpaste, a washcloth or a toothbrush. Please visit the wish list on our giving page to see a list of items we need for our backpacks.
The gift of a backpack also delivers conversation and hope for a better tomorrow. We appreciate your help more than you could possibly know. Thank you.
Thanks to the Kroger Foundation, we are also proud to announce a pilot program where we will help our homeless friends grow their own vegetables in 2019. Check back soon for more information.