Cross Creek Baptist gives backpacks to homeless people

Published 9:50 am Friday, August 18, 2023

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By BARTON PERKINS | Staff Writer

PELHAM – The women of Cross Creek Baptist knew that they wanted to tackle a new service project, but the trouble was they weren’t sure what they could do.

“We have a small group of women,”church member Cathy Lee said. “We’re not large. We’re kind of  like a subset of a mission committee, but you know, it was just kind of like a little ad hoc group of women.”

Cross Creek Baptist’s pastor, Dixie Ford, suggested that the group consider creating backpacks of hygiene items that could be distributed to homeless people in the Shelby and Jefferson County areas. 

“We set a goal of getting 30 backpacks and filling them with hygiene items,” Lee said. “Everybody was very enthusiastic, and we filled 54 backpacks and then had surplus items that we donated to One Roof.”

One Roof is an advocacy group and nonprofit dedicated to helping the homeless population of Central Alabama. Their ultimate goal is to connect individuals and families to appropriate resources related to their housing and service needs. They also have members who engage in street ministry.

“One of our church members was familiar with them and gave me their names,” Lee said. “I contacted them and asked if this is something they could use, and they said, ‘Oh yes.’ Their street ministry actually goes out on the streets and helps people that are not in shelters, and those were the people we wanted to help.”

The women of Cross Creek Baptist prepped roughly 54 backpacks worth of supplies. 25 of these were filled with items geared specifically for women. 

“Our whole concept was that it’d be strictly where people were totally unsheltered,” Lee said. “Not living in any kind of shelter. I found out that it was like a 40: 60 ratio between men and women.”

It is estimated that over 1,000 individuals currently experience homelessness within the greater Birmingham area. Studies point to many potential causes of homelessness, including traumatic experiences, loss of employment, inadequate housing options and domestic strife. 

“There’s a lot of stigma associated with homelessness,” Lee said. “I’ve come across other people who feel like us supporting them keeps beggars on the street. But none of us felt that way. What matters is that they need help.”