Archive for Thursday, November 15, 2007

BHS senior project helps homeless

November 15, 2007

A Baldwin City teen's school project lit up faces at Lawrence's Community Drop-In Center on Tuesday night.

Seventeen-year-old Robbie Brewster shyly passed out backpacks and totebags to a crowded house of people who are entering the winter season in a state of homelessness.

Some recipients quietly received the bags and stepped out of the crowd. Others gave Brewster elaborate handshakes and high-fives.

"This is exceptional -- the magnitude of it, the number of gifts, and the thoughtfulness of one young man organizing this," said Loring Henderson, director of the Lawrence Community Shelter.

Brewster's "survival kits" contained blankets, canned sausages, nuts, shampoo, soap, deodorant, razors, combs and other toiletries, books and Bibles. He passed out 50 packs.

The effort was part of a senior project that Brewster must complete to get his diploma. But his goals were bigger than a school assignment.

Adopted at age 3, Brewster said his early years with his biological parents were filled with struggle. His background made him want to change things. He volunteers at the Lawrence Interdenominational Nutrition Kitchen.

And for this project, he placed donation boxes at school and at church. If the items he needed weren't donated, he bought them himself.

"I always wanted to put a stop to hunger and homelessness," he said.

Brian Blevins, a case manager, said the center is in constant need of items. Just when things start to run out, an act of generosity replenishes the stock, he said.

"It's strange, we always seem to make it," Blevins said. "It's things like this that happen sporadically when we need it. I just went through the last blanket we had over there and then these pop in. It's just really strange. It always works out."

After passing out a pack to one man, Brewster noticed that the man was drawing pictures on sheets of white paper. When Brewster mentioned it, the man offered to sketch Brewster's portrait. A bit later, the sketch appeared and Brewster shyly thanked the man.

Another person who'd picked up a bag yelled in from the back door: "I got my Bible! Thank you! Love God!"

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