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Governor John P. de Jongh Jr. has proclaimed the week of Nov. 14-20 as “Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week” in the Virgin Islands to call attention to the plight of the homeless and the good work being done by many volunteers and charitable organizations in the territory.
The National Coalition for the Homeless, and the National Student Campaign against Hunger and Homelessness have designated this week’s theme as: “Bringing America Home.”
The Virgin Islands Interagency Council on Homeless and the Virgin Islands Continuum of Care on Homelessness recognize that hunger and homelessness are serious problems facing many individuals and families in the territory.
“We all have to do more to help our less fortunate neighbors find permanent shelter and otherwise assist so that they don’t have to struggle in getting nutritional meals. And we all should recognize the work of selfless volunteers who rise to that mission every day,” de Jongh said.
The week is set aside to educate the public about the many reasons people are hungry and homeless, including the shortage of affordable housing for very low-income residents and families. The week also serves as an occasion to encourage support for homeless assistance service providers, as well as community service opportunities for students and school service organizations.
There are many community organizations in the Virgin Islands committed to providing shelter and support services, as well as meals, clothing and other supplies to the homeless and hungry populations.
Organizations such as the Methodist Training and Outreach Center, Catholic Charities, Clear Blue Sky, Eagle’s Nest, Ten Thousand Helpers, The Village, The Salvation Army, Lutheran Social Services, the Women’s Coalition, St. Croix Mission Outreach, the Lighthouse Mission, The Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence and My Brother’s Table are just some of the service providers in our community offering assistance to the territory’s hungry and homeless populations.
“These organizations are all deserving of our recognition and support,” the governor said.
Several food drives will mark the week’s observance.
The Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence St. Thomas/St. John (COAST) is holding a food drive on St. John throughout the week. The organization is asking St. John residents to drop off non-perishable canned foods in boxes located at all major food markets on the island for redistribution to the homeless.
St. Croix Mission Outreach is sponsoring a Hunger and Homelessness Week Dinner for the Homeless on the evening of November 18th.
The Interact Clubs of Antilles School and Montessori School are also sponsoring food drives throughout the week. Food collected by the students will be donated to The Salvation Army.
Preceding this week’s observance, First Lady Cecile de Jongh launched an initiative, in partnership with Catholic Charities, on hunger and homelessness to encourage residents to donate food. A territory-wide food drive was held on November 5 and 6. The first lady also encourages Virgin Islanders to participate in her year-round Tiny Tokens of Hope initiative which assists the homeless by providing hygiene kits.
Governor de Jongh calls upon residents, businesses and other community organizations to join him in recognizing and thanking those in our community for their service to our homeless and hungry populations. The governor asks all Virgin Islanders to support in whatever manner possible the efforts of those aid organizations as they strive to provide assistance to people in need of food and shelter.