PAINESVILLE, Ohio — Painesville's Sub Zero Mission is responding to growing need from homeless people who refuse indoor shelter, hosting another of its "Stuff the Bus" events on Nov. 23, collecting donated warming items for distribution this coming winter.
James Hido, Sub Zero Mission Communications Director, told News 5 it's looking for donations of what it calls the "stay alive five" warming items, including winter hats, coats, gloves, boots and sleeping bags. Hido said the donated items must be in new or gently used condition. Hido said donations can also include new winter socks and tents.
Hido said his agency is trying to collect 7,500 items by Dec. 1 to meet the inventory needed for more than 50 distributions scheduled through March of 2022. Hido said the ongoing pandemic has had a negative impact on the agency's life-saving effort, so he's hoping November collection events will allow the agency to catch up this winter.
“More and more people were becoming homeless, and we weren’t able to directly impact and help those individuals," Hido said.
“Our event season and our fundraising season was completely shut down because of COVID-19, so we weren’t able to raise any of the funding that we would normally need for that delivery season."
“We are collecting winter hats, boots, gloves, coats and sleeping bags. All which we can take as new or gently used. We also take new warm winter socks, and also tents."
Justin Ramey with the Sub Zero Mission communication department, is also a member of the "blue coats" distribution team, which makes on-site deliveries to outdoor homeless people at tent locations or on the streets. Ramey told News 5 the agency's "no questions asked" approach has allowed it to gain trust from this vulnerable population that is too often dealing with mental health or substance abuse challenges.
“This is the reality that too many Americans have to deal with," Ramey said. “When you're making a distribution, the reality hits of being out in the cold without these warming items and how much of an impact this could have in potentially saving someone’s life."
“A myriad of things could have happened that could have led this individual to be in this position and we’re the last ones there to judge," Ramey said."
Hido told News 5 Sub Zero Mission was founded by two local veterans who were simply trying to keep another veteran warm 12 years ago. Hido said the agency has a focus on helping homeless veterans since they make up more than 20% of the outdoor homeless population.
“Our demand and need for want we do is higher now more than ever, Hido said. “We’re not asking questions why, we’re not the police, we’re not here trying to pull you out of your situation. All we want to ensure is that you can make it through this cold night.”
The agency will host its Stuff the Bus event Tuesday, Nov. 23 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Lake County Job and Family Services, located at 177 Main Street in Painesville. The event will accept new socks, boots and coats, as well as new or gently used winter hats, sleeping bags and tents. The agency said it will not accept pants, dresses, toys or undergarments.
Veteran-owned Barra De Taco food truck will also be on-site during this event from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. for those who would like to purchase lunch. More information can be found on the Sub Zero Mission webpage or Facebook page.