SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - An effort to help feed and clothe the homeless in Shreveport-Bossier, with very humble beginnings, has now grown into a large monthly gathering with a festive atmosphere.
There are great efforts underway locally to help the homeless in the Shreveport-Bossier area. One of them you may not have heard about just yet. Organizers call it I-2-D. It stands for "Intent 2 Distribute," a play on words that has a very serious goal.
From chicken, to check-ups, to a chorus; this monthly gathering in the shadow of downtown Shreveport helps the homeless and those in need. "These people need to know that they're loved," explained Donna Earnest.
Earnest is executive director of Hope House, a day shelter for the homeless right across the street. She began this effort 9 years ago, bringing out sack lunches. "It's just blown up. From little sacks that contained a Vienna sausage and a pack of crackers and a cookie has blown up to this big deal."
Over time, it has attracted local churches, non-profits and civic groups all working together. That includes St. Luke's Episcopal Medical Ministry. It provides free health screenings inside its RV.
While outside, a gospel group from Mansfield provides the musical entertainment.
"They've done that for seven years, come every month up here to sing for our people," added Earnest.
On this day dozens of people got a good meal.
"I think it's great. I've been coming for about seven years," said a smiling Peggy Nolen. She describes herself as a success story, able to get off the streets and stay off thanks to community support.
Organizers say this event just keeps getting bigger and bigger. The latest group to join is the Southern State Trail Riders Association. The group's president, Julian Washington, was cooking up some chicken quarters and preparing to serve a lot of people.
"Well, we're looking at somewhere about 300," said Washington.
Volunteer Ericka Brandes of Bossier City explained, "Our main goal is to be able to show God's love."
Brandes brought along two of her children, 4-year-old Lanah and 8-year-old Aleigha, both of whom like to help.
"Helping people get to have food to eat and something to drink," said Aleigha, while holding two plates of food.
Organizers say if you'd like to help out, they're in the 1000 block of Texas Street in Shreveport every third Sunday of the month.
Earnest says 1,300 people are registered at the Hope House. She estimates the overall homeless population in the Shreveport-Bossier metro area could include several hundred people.