For the last six years, Project LoveShare has worked to collect gently-used coats, boots, mittens, gloves and blankets for men and women and children in need. These items are then provided to human service agencies in the Cass Corridor.
“This was birthed out of a need to address some of the homeless individuals who live in the Cass Corridor, by providing blankets and coats, and boots and whatever else we would get to help during the winter,” said Karen Love, Michigan Chronicle COO, who started Project LoveShare in 2003. She calls it a “ministry of helps.”
The name was coined by Frank deTallio, who does cartoons for the Michigan FrontPage.
“They had said it was going to be a real cold winter, and coming to work one day, I saw people sleeping on top of the steam grates,” she said. “And I saw people sleeping in Cass Park with cardboard or something over the bushes and they were sleeping underneath the bushes. I thought to myself how blessed I am to have gotten out of a warm bed. I had quilts and a roof over my head.”
Love felt the need to do something to help those who didn’t have a roof over their heads. The next day, she sent e-mails to some friends she thought might help her establish a program in a short time.
The now-closed Baptist Center across the street from the Michigan Chronicle was the first recipient of donated items. The amount of donations received exceeded what Love had anticipated. From those beginnings, Project LoveShare evolved into a year-round program focused on getting clothing and other items that it could donate to agencies in the Cass Corridor.
“This is what we’re doing again this year,” Love said, adding that this winter is expected to be extremely cold, and that clean, gently used articles of winter clothing and blankets would be welcome.
Among the agencies that have received donations from Project LoveShare is the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM). According to Barbara Willis, community relations officer at DRMM, the donated clothing and blankets provide a valuable service.
“We’re thankful for the partnership,” Willis said, adding that DRMM houses about 1200 people per day. “The number is growing because of the economy, so one blanket would mean all the difference in the world to one of our clients.”
Some people come in with nothing but the clothes on their back — that they’ve been wearing for days. A change of clothing helps them to feel better about themselves and helps them to become more able to go throughout DRMM’s training programs and rejoin the community.
“Our mission statement is ‘changing the inner city one life at a time,’ so each donation, each blanket, each piece of clothing is vital to what we do,” Willis said. “Sometimes people get overwhelmed with the need, but when we look at it one person at a time, then it really means something.”
Other recipients of donations from Project LoveShare include Genesis House, a DRMM facility for unwed teen mothers who have either given birth or are expecting, and the Salvation Army. In addition, Love noted that advertising revenue from the “Heart for the Holidays” tab (now in its seventh year) are donated to a charity in the Cass Corridor that usually helps the homeless or others not in a position to help themselves.
“What we do with Heart for the Holiday is we want companies to highlight some of the philanthropic things they might be doing in the community,” Love said. “Or they can spotlight an employee or group within their organization that may do charitable things throughout the year, and they want to really just make them look good at the Christmas holiday.”
Love said Project LoveShare tends to help charities in the Cass Corridor as a way of supporting those organizations in the same area of the city as the Chronicle.
People are given receipts for their donations which are tax deductible.
Donated items are brought to the Chronicle and are then picked up by the agencies.