Richmond man gives back to homeless community

Backpacks for the homeless in RVA

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - There’s a group of people from all across RVA, coming together to help the homeless community through an organization called “Backpacks for the Homeless.”

“There is a hygiene packet that has 23 different items toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, washcloth, flossers, then we have non-perishable food items. Bottles of water, cherry granola bars, and four pairs of socks, a warm hat, and a warm pair of gloves,” says Earnie Taylor, leader of Backpacks for the Homeless.

To some, it’s everyday household items while to others in the homeless community, it’s a bit of their dignity, restored.

“There are a lot of complications in life, but the most simple thing you can do is show somebody love. If you go out there on the street and you see someone that doesn’t have a home or a meal, the first thing you can do is show them that,” Taylor said.

Taylor started the program a few years ago.

“We started out with 44 backpacks the first year, this year including everything that we pack now we are at 458 backpacks,” he says.

Now, Taylor partners with local churches to pull their resources.

Taylor says members of the homeless community are dealing with so much more than not having a place to call their own. Things like addiction - or even escaping domestic violence.

“Some people have left very violent situations and sometimes they are not ready to talk to you and they really don’t want you to leave things sometimes. There are other people that I have run into that have been terminally ill, have lost everything, and they have been out on the streets. Something as simple as reaching out to them to give them necessities, as simple as some of the stuff might seem to any of us, might mean the world to someone else who doesn’t have a lot of time left," Taylor said.

Taylor now wants the public to see past a homeless person’s circumstance - and put the human element back in humanity.

“I know that whatever is given to Ernie he will find a good use for it,” says Linda Hammer.

“He is always doing things day and night he never takes away from anybody," Mike Ravenscroft said.

Together, they wanted to help him give a little more by awarding him NBC12′s Acts of Kindness award.

Earnie says a lot of people are only a paycheck or two away from having no place to rest their heads. And as long as he can muster up enough resources, he will continue to help the homeless - anyway, he can.

“There are so many tragic situations that cause people to be homeless, that I really don’t think people get a good understanding of how easy it can be them," Taylor said.

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