Pax Christi Memphis hopes to make life just a bit easier for a few homeless and impoverished individuals trying to survive life on the streets of Memphis. The group recently purchased 200 drawstring backpacks that they hope can be filled with personal care items they will solicit from parishioners throughout the Diocese and others.
Teaming with Manna House, a place that offers hospitality in the Madison Heights neighborhood of midtown, Pax Christi will deliver the backpacks there with whatever items they collect at the end of September. Volunteers at Manna House will sort and bag the items so that they can be appropriately distributed to fit individual needs.
“We borrowed this idea from Pax Christi Little Rock,” said Pax Christi member Paul Crum. “We see homeless people carry their belongings in garbage bags and flimsy grocery sacks, so we thought this small gesture might provide some of our brothers and sisters with a few items we typically take for granted.”
The group will soon begin asking churches for permission to place a donation box in a visible location during the month of September. The items suggested for donation include toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, shampoo, lotion, mouthwash, nail clippers, foot powder, Tylenol/aspirin, soap, tissue, shaving gel/razors, Visine, Q-tips, washcloths and socks. Pax Christi Memphis will also provide a means for monetary contributions for those who may be too busy to shop for the items themselves. More information can be found on their website: Paxchristimemphis.org.
Pax Christi is happy to be working with Manna House, which was established in the tradition of the Catholic Workers Movement. They have demonstrated a tradition of welcoming each guest with respect and compassion, and claim not to be a social services agency, but rather a group of persons welcoming other persons to share themselves, their gifts and the gifts received from others.
Manna House opens at 1268 Jefferson Avenue on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings. During warm weather their guests enjoy a shady backyard and cold water, and there is always plenty of coffee available. Manna House offers showers, a change of clothes and some personal items such as socks and t-shirts.
Anyone interested in the backpack program or other Pax Christi Memphis initiatives may email the group at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (901) 327-8068.