About a hundred people – mostly volunteers – came to Naftzger Park on Saturday for an event to serve Wichita’s homeless population.
Sarah Miller’s project, “Scarves in the Park,” was intended as a one-time event in November, when she would give away free scarves to the homeless.
Now her project has grown to include free toiletries, food and clothes. Various church groups and organizations have also started coming to the park to help, she said.
The one thing she didn’t count on: 70-degree weather.
“It’s still going to be cold at night,” she said. “We had a sleeping bag, and it went. We had blankets, and they all went.”
Miller and a friend were inspired by a similar event in another town, she said.
As the weather warms, “the needs are going to change,” she said.
Miller said she expects that wet wipes, refillable water bottles, backpacks and bags are going to be important items for the group to give away in the coming months.
While he said he appreciated the assistance, a man who would identify himself only by his street name, “Cuzz,” said Saturday’s event was “a Band-Aid.”
“All this does is alleviate the problem temporarily,” he said. “The city needs to let more things like this go on in the community. It’s nothing but good – there’s no downside to this at all.”
The man said he had been homeless since November, when he was evicted from his apartment for forgetting about a turkey he had in the oven. The apartment caught fire.
Now, he said, he’s looking for a job and a new place to stay.
Events like Saturday’s “Scarves in the Park” are an important “stepping stone” to more help, he said.
“It helps alleviate some of this poverty for society’s castaways, if you will,” he said. “This helps. This is a blessing.”
For more information about “Scarves in the Park” and to help with future events, visit the group’s Facebook page.