Back Bay Mission Packs Holiday Meals For Local Families - - The News for South Mississippi

Back Bay Mission Packs Holiday Meals For Local Families

There's a crisis looming for area social workers. They keep meeting people who came here expecting to find work. But instead, they ended up without a job, without money, and without a home. And south Mississippi no longer has shelter space to prevent those people from wandering the streets.

This week, the Back Bay Mission found a way to bring a little good fortune to some of those people. Employees like Bunia Sanders get to grocery shop for a handful of Biloxi's more needy neighbors.

"I really love people. I'm a people person. And I love helping somebody else," said the east Biloxi woman who's spent 23 years working at the mission.

Miss Bunia feels her role with the Back Bay Mission is more important now, during the holidays, while so many people are struggling to put Katrina behind them.

"A little bag of groceries mean a whole lot when you don't have any," she said while bagging groceries donated to the Back Bay Mission pantry.

Mary McKinley is one of the newest members of the mission team.

"Anything we can do to help a little bit helps them greatly," she said.

McKinley is hopeful that a box filled with Christmas goodies can provide a warm meal for a needy family.

"There are other agencies that give out toys. And we felt this is where we could help the community the best," the emergency assistance case worker said.

McKinley became the Back Bay Mission's emergency assistance case worker in September. Her agency's focus this holiday season is delivering holiday treats to 103 needy families.

"Some of my friends have asked how I can do it everyday, it must be depressing because there's so much need," she said. "I look at it the other way. Every day it's a great joy because we get to help people."

At last check, the Back Bay Mission counted 700 homeless people in the Biloxi area, significantly more than in the pre-Katrina days.

According to McKinley, "The need is huge. There are large amounts of hungry people on the coast."

Homeless program case manager Scott Williams believes, "Agencies like ours, who are still working with homeless people, you've seen a great increase of the daily numbers of people, because there are less places for them to go get assistance."

Miss Bunia likes to think those numbers go down a bit every time she fills a grocery bag with food.

"That's what we're here for, to help other people who are less fortunate," she said as she walked to another shelf, grabbed a can and placed it in a shopping bag.

The Back Bay Mission food baskets will be delivered on Thursday and Friday.

Mission employees worked out of seven buildings on Division Street before the storm. Now, they have just one building. However, work on a volunteer housing complex and a community center could begin next month.

By Brad Kessie

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