Shepherd of the Gulf helping homeless by remembering and giving - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Shepherd of the Gulf helping homeless by remembering and giving

The memorial for Russel Bangs, a homeless man who died on New Year's Day, still stands in Gulfport as a tribute to him and a reminder to help others less fortunate. (Photo source: WLOX News) The memorial for Russel Bangs, a homeless man who died on New Year's Day, still stands in Gulfport as a tribute to him and a reminder to help others less fortunate. (Photo source: WLOX News)
Shepherd of the Gulf volunteer Sandra Walsh, left, unloads gifts at Liberty Coffee House in Gulfport for the annual Campers Christmas. (Photo source: WLOX News) Shepherd of the Gulf volunteer Sandra Walsh, left, unloads gifts at Liberty Coffee House in Gulfport for the annual Campers Christmas. (Photo source: WLOX News)
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

The writing on the memorial has faded, but the memory remains still strong.

On New Year’s Day, 59-year-old Russel Bangs, a homeless man, was found dead behind Crossroads Shopping Center in Gulfport.

Days later his friends held a vigil to honor his life, and Lynda Favre has not forgotten.

“Russel was a camper and I felt like he needs a gift, too. So, brought him the wreath. I made the wreath by myself, and put it on the cross," said Favre. 

The memorial near the ditch where his body was discovered has remained with signatures and decorations placed by Favre. However, the memorial is more than just for Bangs — it’s for everyone.

Collections for the upcoming Campers Christmas, which will be held Saturday at West Side Park in Gulfport, and Sunday at Hiller Park in Biloxi, have been rolling in. Hosted by Shepherd of The Gulf, volunteers will distribute clothing and personal items to the homeless community living in the woods.

“We could be here and gone the next, just like Russel was,” she said. “And there’s campers out there right now. Same situation could happen to them. And we should always remember the love in your heart should go everyday out to people with less than what we have.”

Though volunteers have been gathering presents for only two weeks, Shepherd of the Gulf volunteer Sandra Walsh says it has been one of the best years for collections.

“It’s always good to be able to give back,” said Walsh. “My family’s been blessed and we like to share our blessings with others.”

Both events start at 1 p.m., and the public is welcome to bring gifts at either events.

Favre wants the gifts to be like one would give a friend.

“Something special, and have it gift wrapped,” Favre said. “Because believe me when you see those campers with those gifts, they’re like children on Christmas Day.”

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