Picture this: You’re a family of three, recently displaced from your home after a domestic violence incident. You’re scared and essentially homeless, so you place all of your household possessions, including furniture, linens, clothing and kids’ toys, into storage expecting to retrieve them once you’re settled. After you find shelter at Lucy’s Hearth in Newport, you learn the storage unit was sold and everything you owned is gone.
One might argue that it’s just “stuff,” that it can be replaced. And while that may be true, to a child who has suffered a trauma and had to abruptly leave their home, having something as small as a teddy bear is a huge comfort; for a mother to lose all their personal items because she fled a bad situation is a double upset, especially after the year of Covid.
Enter Project ReGive. Working with Lucy’s Hearth, Newport Community School and Women’s Resource Center, Project ReGive collects unwanted Christmas presents from across Aquidneck Island, Jamestown and Bristol, targeting families and young kids in need. From clothing and toys to linens and kitchen items collected each year, beneficiaries of these local, non-profit organizations have an opportunity to start over thanks to the generosity of Island families.
“The need for us is different. Lucy’s Hearth has been around since 1984, with 15 efficiency apartments on site and two apartments outside that are permanent supportive housing. So at any given time, we have 200 individuals that are able to utilize Project ReGive donations,” says Lucy’s Hearth Executive Director Kelly Lee. “They were formally homeless, so the financial means to buy their kids’ birthday presents, or for their kids to buy a Mother’s Day card, is not there. The items donated through Project ReGive, like a brand new blanket they can call their own, will make their day and improve their mood.”
Receiving 10 large bins of donated items last year, Lucy’s Hearth created move-out baskets to set up their families for success when they move on to their forever home. “They have to start from scratch when they’re moving in, because they had to leave their former home rapidly or couldn’t afford to pay for storage. And there is not a lot of room for toys. Having these items to help them move into a new home will really help,” Lee says. “Housewares, linens, toys and crafts for the kids. We always need new bed pillows, twin bedding, towels, utensils, pots and pans, dishes. We need it all.”
Lee says she is constantly in awe of the generosity and caring of people in this community, and is looking forward to continued collaboration with Project ReGive. “It’s amazing to me,” Lee says. “When you’re talking about children and children experiencing homelessness, most people can’t begin to imagine that situation. Everybody knows kids and no one wants them to be homeless. So Project ReGive is making an impact.”
Drop off your new, unneeded items in the donation bin outside the Hogan Associates office, 294 Valley Rd., Middletown, R.I. Visit the Project ReGive website for more information. Read here for more about the impact of donating to Newport Community School.