Eloise Parker

In 2014, instead of buying gifts for each other to celebrate the holidays, my partner Dennis and I decided we would buy for the homeless of Orange County. We purchased toothpaste, soap, deodorant, beanies, socks, gloves and other personal hygiene items and then handed them out to those in need at the riverbed in Santa Ana, as well as a homeless encampment in Long Beach. We wanted to give back to our community and show those who are struggling that they are loved and not forgotten. Homelessness in Orange County is on the rise.The 2017 federally mandated census recorded 4,792 homeless people in Orange County alone; a 13 percent increase since 2014. More than half of these individuals are living without shelter; many of them lacking basic needs. Last year, my coworkers Ana Cazarez’s and Maira Preciado, joined the cause. With the help of their families, we collected clothes and toiletries, made sandwiches and passed out 175 care packages.