Volunteers host first picnic for homeless

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - It's a unique way to show the homeless in South Mississippi that they are not forgotten. On Tuesday, Shepherd of the Gulf served up food, fun, and fellowship to those who don't have a place to call home. The organization hosted the first homeless picnic at the beach pavilion in Long Beach.

"A cool sandwich, a get-together, just to fellowship, to let the people know that they're not forgotten and there are people out there that really care about what happens to them," said Lynda Favre, Shepherd of the Gulf Coordinator.

Volunteers came out in droves to hand out sandwiches, chips, dessert and a cool drink. They also gave away clothing, shoes, personal hygiene products, and blankets. Those in need appreciated the generous serving of kindness.

"It's real good. A little get together for the homeless. Don't forget about us. We're just normal people just like everybody else," said Jerri Kitchings, who is homeless.

"It means I can fellowship with some good people, get something to eat, a few clothes to take back to my camp," said Jerri Kitchings, a homeless veteran. "God bless every one of them. It's once in a lifetime."

The picnic was just a small part of the group's mission. Its ultimate goal is to build a shelter in Harrison County for homeless families and their pets, a place where they can live and heal.  The organization needs about 20 acres to build 15 to 20 small cottages for families and an area for pets. Plans also include literacy, GED, and job training programs.

"So these people will not only have shelter, but they'll be rebuilding their life, be productive citizens," said Favre. "Once they leave, they'll have a job, have a bank account, a home to go to."

With more than 500 homeless people living along the three coastal counties, the small picnic showed them they haven't been deserted and they can feel special, even if it's just for one day.

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