In 2014, instead of buying gifts for each other to celebrate the holidays, OTA’s Customer Service Agent, Eloise Parker and her partner, Dennis Givens, decided they would buy for the homeless of both Orange County and Long Beach. They purchased toothpaste, soap, deodorant, beanies, socks, gloves and other personal hygiene items and handed them out to those in need at the riverbed in Santa Ana, California, 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,” says Eloise.
The next year, Eloise’s coworkers, Ana Cazarez’s, Maira Preciado, and a few others joined the cause. With the help of their families, they collected clothes and toiletries, made sandwiches and passed out 175 care packages. This year, they are hoping to increase that number to 300.
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. Two years later in January of 2019, this number jumped to 6,860. More than half of these individual are living without shelter; many of them lacking basic needs.
“Primarily, the care packages are a handout for community outreach to bless those that are homeless or less fortunate,” says Eloise. “We need to love one another completely at all times, no matter the situation because it could be us. I know because I have been there.”
Today Eloise, Dennis and their OTA crew are paying it forward.
“Our goal, our prayer is that there is no more homelessness. As long as there are people living in the streets, we will be passing out as many packages as we can each year.”
Eloise specifically needs $5 gift cards as well as blankets. With temperatures dropping in December—sometimes into the 30’s at night—blankets are on everyone’s wish list. They are accepting donations until Monday, November 11th when they will be putting the packages together for distribution.
In an effort to help Eloise and her team reach their goal, a blanket collection box will be placed in the lobby of OTA.
If you would like to help but shopping is not your thing, you can also go to GP Care Packages GoFundMe Account to make a donation. All contributions will go to purchasing more blankets and gift cards.
Here is the link to the GoFundMe Account: https://www.gofundme.com/gp-care-packagesEloise and her team would like to thank you in advance for your contribution and helping them to continue this holiday tradition of giving.