Free scarves, hats help needy stay warm

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Local agencies gathered on the Wilson County Public Library lawn last week in an effort to keep the homeless and others in need warm as the winter months approach.

Together, they tied scarves, hats and gloves to trees throughout the lawn area where anyone in need could stop by and get a much-needed item.

The Wilson County Department of Social Services, Hope Station, Wesley Shelter and United Way of Wilson collected the warm winter items to share with the community for the second annual Operation Wrap-Up, which was held in observance of Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week

“Operation Wrap-Up is a simple act of kindness that allows those in our community who need to secure items to help them stay warm this winter,” said Candice Rountree of Wilson County DSS.

The winter items, which include a card with a message that lets the recipient know they are welcome to take the item if needed, were assembled through the help of several AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America members currently working in Wilson through a grant partnership between United Way of Wilson and Wilson 20/20 Community Vision.

“We are thrilled that our VISTA workers have been able to participate in this project,” said Judi Thurston, United Way executive director. “Operation Wrap-Up has provided the group a chance to see how our community can work together to help those in need in a personal but very tangible way.”

Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is an annual week of action where local volunteers come together to draw attention to poverty.

“Hunger and homelessness are real issues that affect children and families living right here in the Wilson community,” said Lynne White, Wesley Shelter executive director.

White said a lack of adequate food and housing are problems families face on a daily basis.

“Often hunger and homeless aren’t visible to many of us as we simply don’t see those who are in need,” said the Rev. Linda H. Walling, Hope Station executive director. “What we want the community to know is that this is not an invisible problem and by working together, we can make a difference for our homeless neighbors.”

Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is co-sponsored nationally by the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness. The event originated at Villanova University in 1975, and now takes place in nearly 700 communities across the country.