Annapolis High students help the homeless

January 15, 1993|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Staff Writer

Annapolis High School student Nakeesha Johnson said she never knew the Lighthouse Shelter existed, never even thought much about the homeless, until last fall.

"I'd never been in a homeless shelter," said 15-year-old fTC Nakeesha. "I thought people here would be upset and depressed. But it wasn't like that at all. It's really a nice place."

Nakeesha and five other Annapolis High students, all members of the school's Unity Club, made the Lighthouse Shelter a bit nicer yesterday, bringing about 275 items they collected from fellow students during their Harvest for the Homeless Drive in December.

"We wanted the club to become more active in the community," Unity Club adviser Daryl Watson said. "The school's philosophy is to get more community-active, and this is a great way for the students in the club to follow through on that."

The shelter provides 30-day temporary housing for up to 16 people. The shelter also has two apartments for single mothers and their children, plus a food pantry it uses to feed its temporary residents and provide the needy with groceries.

Last fall, a small group of students from the Unity Club visited the shelter and made a short film about its work with homeless men, women and children in the Annapolis area. The film was aired on the high school's local television show, "Pantherama," and kicked off what is to become an annual drive.

Yesterday, a small contingent of students stocked the pantry shelves with disposable diapers, canned goods and toiletries.

"This feels like we're doing something to help them out," said 15-year-old Caryn Calhoun.

"I was very proud that so many people at school helped out," Nakeesha added. "I hope it gives students some insight into the shelter."

Paschall Evans, 17, said he, too, hopes the drive will draw more attention to the plight of the homeless.

"We're always giving or helping people in other countries with their problems, but we have big problems right here that haven't been addressed," Paschall said.

Like Nakeesha, many of the students said they had passed the shelter many times, but never paid it any attention.

"I had never been exposed to anything like this until I joined the Unity Club," 16-year-old Jamal Snowden said.

Dante Mackell said he knows a resident of the shelter who also has helped to change his perceptions of the homeless.

"I always thought of the homeless as bums," Dante said. "But there's a guy who works with me at Wendy's and he lives here. He's not a bum. He's just somebody new in town who needs a place to stay.

"I wish I had known about this place before. I could have helped out earlier," he added.

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