Donations flow to homeless family

November 02, 1994|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,Sun Staff Writer

Clothing, diapers, food and a rent-free house are among the donations that have been offered to Viola Jones, a homeless woman whose daily odyssey through city streets with her three children was detailed recently in The Sun.

Yesterday, the donations were still coming in: dishes, blankets, toys -- and three baby strollers.

"It's been really good," Ms. Jones said as she left Our Daily Bread, a downtown soup kitchen, with her three children, ages 7, 5 and 18 months. "It seems that things are going better."

A story describing the plight of Ms. Jones, 28, and her children appeared Saturday in The Sun. The family, which has been homeless since coming to Baltimore from Richmond, Va., last November, survives on $441 a month in child support payments

While in Baltimore, they have slept in shelters, in hospital emergency rooms, on the floors of friends' apartments and on benches at Lexington Market. They eat most of their meals at soup kitchens.

But the children all are wearing new coats these days, thanks to the generosity of a stranger who came to Our Daily Bread, a downtown soup kitchen, Saturday. And Ms. Jones can push her toddler in a stroller.

"At least I don't have to carry the baby wherever I go. That was always a big problem in getting around. People we don't even know have been really good to us," Ms. Jones said.

Since the weekend, several people have called or have come to Our Daily Bread to help Ms. Jones. Others called The Sun to offer help.

One caller, Saundra Banks, the clerk for the city Circuit Court, said she is willing to let Ms. Jones and her children live rent-free for 18 months in a West Baltimore rowhouse she owns.

"I know I wouldn't want to be walking around the streets," Ms. Banks said. "I wanted to help."

The three-story, four-bedroom property on Harlem Avenue is ready for occupancy, Ms. Banks said, although some carpentry is needed in the kitchen. Ms. Jones would only have to pay the utility bills and provide furniture.

Told of the offer, Ms. Jones was excited and said she hoped to move to the house next week. "This is something we . . . [have] been wanting to have," she said.

Her next step, she said, would be to land a job and get her 7- and 5-year-old children in school. Her last job was in Richmond, in a McDonald's restaurant.

Despite the offerings, the near future for Ms. Jones and her children remains uncertain. For several days last week the family slept on the floor of an unfurnished apartment in Reservoir Hill.

One night, Ms. Jones bought lunch meat for dinner with money given her, but the apartment had no refrigerator to store food.

"This is a start, and we hope to move up from here," she said. "This is going to be better than it was."

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