Tackling Poverty this Holiday Season | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Tackling Poverty this Holiday Season

Organizations such as Operation Shoestring can help end the cycle of poverty through avenues such as education.

Organizations such as Operation Shoestring can help end the cycle of poverty through avenues such as education. Photo by Imani Khayyam.

For families and individuals who are struggling, especially financially, the holidays can be a tough time. That's where nonprofits come in, for both immediate and systemic help. You can donate to and/or volunteer with these nonprofits.

Good Samaritan Center

(114 Millsaps Ave., goodsamaritancenter.org)

The Good Samaritan Center was founded in 1972 under the direction and financial support of seven churches. The nonprofit's mission is to help families and individuals in unexpected emergency situations. Good Sam has services to help its clients such as food assistance for when people are applying for food stamps or experiencing a food-related emergency, case management to help clients figure out the basic cause of their emergency so they can make changes, church assistance for handling emergency crises, holiday assistance for families in need, travelers aid for non-local families with children who are stranded in Jackson and more. You can donate money or items such as food, clothing, household items, school supplies and more. To view the list of the organization's most needed items, visit goodsamaritancenter.org.

Stewpot Community Services

(1100 W. Capitol St., 601-353-2759, stewpot.org)

Stewpot's mission is to provide food, clothing, shelter and care for children, elderly, disabled and poor people in Jackson. Stewpot's services include homeless shelters for men and women, a clothing closet, legal, health and counseling clinics, a community kitchen and food pantry, Meals on Wheels for those who cannot make it to Stewpot, a transitional shelter for women and their children, and more. Stewpot needs volunteers for services such as the food pantry, the Billy Brumfield Shelter and Matt's House, the clothing closet and the computer lab. Visit stewpot.org.

Catholic Charities

(850 E. River Place, 601-355-8634, catholiccharitiesjackson.org)

Catholic Charities' website says its mission is "to be a visible sign of Christ's love by helping those who are unable to help themselves; the poor and vulnerable, especially women, children and families." The nonprofit has children's mental-health services such as crisis intervention, counseling services, therapeutic foster care and more; adoption services; maternity counseling; infant foster-care services and post-adoption services; alcohol and drug services such as chemical addiction treatment and a transitional program for women and their children; domestic violence services such as shelter for abused families, therapeutic daycare, second-stage transitional housing and a legal assistance clinic; a rape crisis center, which has services such as a 24-hour crisis hotline, mental-health intervention and long- and short-term counseling; the Migrant Support Center, which helps immigrants with asylum, work authorization renewal and citizenship; and more. To donate or volunteer, visit catholiccharitiesjackson.org.

Draw a Smile Foundation


Draw a Smile's projects include R U Hungry, where organization founder Bilal Qizilbash and others feed hungry people at Smith Park every Friday night at 6 p.m.; Happy Homes, which is working toward providing a housing solution for homeless people, college students and the working poor; development of the Gloria Pagnotta Park on Savanna Street; R U Fed, which partners with local restaurants such as Aladdin Mediterranean Grill to help feed needy people in the community; and Katalyst, which promotes people doing acts of kindness in the Jackson area. For more information or to donate or volunteer, visit drawsmile.org.

Wingard Home Ministry

(1279 N. West St., 601-906-1976)

Wingard is a long-term transition home for homeless and displaced people in Jackson and the metro area. The organization's services include shelter, healthy meals and snacks, clothing, medical help, helping people find jobs, social-service referrals, transportation and more. Wingard can house up to 60 residents and has no set requirements for the length of stay. For more information, visit wingardhome.org.

United Way of the Capital Area

(843 N. President St., 601-948-4725, myunitedway.com)

United Way of the Capital Area's website says its mission is to "improve lives and build strong communities by uniting individuals with the will, passion, expertise and resources needed to solve problems." The organization's focuses include education, with services such as ACT Prep English II exam workshops, the Pages of Promise book drive for financially insecure schools in Jackson Public Schools, the Excel by 5 program, which aims to improve a child's well-being by age 5, and more; improving access to health care, including increasing access for uninsured or underinsured, decreasing unhealthy physical behavior, increasing how much people use primary, preventative and early-internvention care, and ensuring safe environments for vulnerable women and children; and financial stability for families, which includes helping them increase their incomes, build up savings and find good employment. For more information on donating or getting involved, visit myunitedway.com.

Habitat for Humanity Miss. Capital Area

(615 Stonewall St., 601-353-6060)

Habitat for Humanity has been serving the Jackson metro for 30 years. The organization helps build safe, affordable and environmentally conscious houses for low-income families. The organization has constructed more than 600 homes in the area, developed infrastructure for and rebuilt two abandoned subdivisions, demolished 154 condemned properties since 2004, and rehabilitated and weatherized more than 155 homes for low-income, elderly and special-needs families. For more information or to find out how to volunteer, visit habitatmca.org.

Operation Shoestring

(1711 Bailey Ave., 601-353-6336)

Operation Shoestring began in 1968 in the basement of Wells United Methodist Church as a response to the turbulence of the Civil Rights Movement and the growing divisions in the city and state. Its mission is to promote health and self-sufficiency in children and families, and help elevate the city's needy, its neighborhoods and the community as a whole. The organization gives year-round academic, social and emotional support to elementary, middle and high-school children in central Jackson, and also gives support and resources to their families. The programs include Project Rise: Elementary, which are the organization's afterschool programs for children in grades pre-K through fifth; Project Rise: Beyond Graduation, which gives leadership and programming support for Jackson Public Schools' Academies of Jackson for ninth and 10th graders; the Youth Civic Engagement and Leadership Program, which is a civic-engagement and leadership training program for select middle- and high-school students in JPS; family support services, community outreach and its MS Afterschool Network. For more information or find out how to volunteer, you can visit operationshoestring.org.

Mississippi Youth Media Project

(125 S. Congress St., Suite 1330, 601-966-0834, youthmediaproject.com, jxnpulse.com)

Support a diverse network of Jackson teenagers from throughout the metro who are learning to create high-quality, cause+solutions-focused journalism about their communities, including youth-crime prevention. They learn workplace skills and do high-award-winning multimedia work published at jxnpulse.com. Write [email protected] and donate at youthmediaproject.com. YMP is a project of Dialogue Jackson Inc.

Springboard to Opportunities

(3000 Old Canton Road, Suite 470, 769-251-0924)

Springboard aims to connect families in affordable housing units with resources and programs to help them advance through school, work and life. The organization's programs include ones such as Springboard to Community, which creates a system of support in the community for affordable-housing residents; Springboard to Learning, which gives educational resources and support to children and their parents; and Springboard to Success, which helps affordable-housing residents plan for their short- and long-term goals. For more information, visit springboardto.org.

Created to Serve

([email protected])

With Jackson Public Schools' limited resources and funds, community groups such as Created to Serve are helping share the burden on behalf of students. Since 2011, the nonprofit has provided uniforms, school supplies and personal-care items for JPS students. For more information about the program, email [email protected].

This list is far from complete. See and add more at jfp.ms/giving2017.

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