Bear Necessities serves homeless of Waco with collection drive

A Baylor junior started Bear Necessities to provide an organization for students that gives back to the homeless community in Waco. Photo Courtesy of Baylor University.

By Bridget Sjoberg | Staff Writer

With a heart and passion to best serve the homeless population in Waco, San Antonio junior Lauren Godfrey chartered her organization Bear Necessities back in August and hopes that students look into donating to the group’s current collection drive.

Godfrey serves as president of Bear Necessities, which seeks to connect Baylor students with organizations benefiting Waco’s homeless population through various types of service, including donation drives or volunteering efforts. The group’s current collection drive began on April 8 and will take place until April 26. All donations are being given to The Hangar and Compassion Ministries, both of which strive to help people struggling with homelessness or going through transitional housing.

Godfrey said that the drive seeks to collect items that aren’t typically donated but are easy for students to purchase, like bug spray, paper towels and trash bags.

“The Hangar listed a few items the homeless need that I never would have thought of like lanterns and bike locks, but most would be difficult to get donated,” Godfrey said.

However, they also asked for insect repellent with at least 40 percent DEET, considering it is getting warmer and mosquitos will be a serious problem for the homeless, so we are hoping to have that donated in this drive,” Godfrey said. “We’ve also been in contact with Compassion Ministries—they said they are always in need of toilet paper, paper towels and 13 gallon trash bags. These are items I typically wouldn’t have thought of but they are definitely a necessity, so we are trying to get these items donated for families.”

Godfrey decided to take this more unique approach in her organization after realizing that certain items like toothpaste or feminine products receive many donations while there is still a need for less obvious donations.

“Our original mission was to volunteer with pre-existing organizations in Waco and also to make packs of basic necessities by hosting collection drives and fundraisers. But after speaking with organizations in Waco that help the homeless, we learned that there isn’t really a need for these packs because other groups in the city have that covered,” Godfrey said. “I had met with people from The Hangar and they gave me a lot of useful information pertaining to homelessness. Our new goal is to provide service to these organizations, whether by volunteering, hosting donation drives or raising funds.”

Godfrey has appreciated her involvement in the current collection as an opportunity to learn more about the issue of homelessness and to witness all the work organizations are doing around Waco to help combat the issue.

“My favorite part of being involved is learning that the city of Waco is always trying to help the homeless and that the number of homeless people in the city has decreased drastically over the past couple of years—it’s really great to hear that the homeless have not been given up on and that so many people truly care about alleviating problems they face,” Godfrey said. “Decorating the collection boxes was also pretty fun—I rarely get to be creative and although the boxes are pretty simple, it was therapeutic to get a little artsy in the midst of my studies.”

Austin junior Dylan Lucich serves as vice president of Bear Necessities, and hopes that students realize that even a small contribution can help benefit the drive and make a positive impact.

“I hope that students can see that even through the small items they donate, even if it’s just one item, that they can truly make a difference in the lives of the Waco homeless,” Lucich said. “What they do can really go a long way in helping someone in very unfortunate circumstances.”

For students looking to get further involved in serving Waco’s homeless population, Godfrey recommends donating to the current collection drive, looking out for the group’s next interest meeting and contacting Bear Necessities about getting involved in service opportunities.

“We want to provide various service opportunities such as volunteering at Salvation Army’s kitchen, making breakfast at the Hagar, helping out with the annual Project Homeless Connect—a pit stop for the homeless to learn about resources and receive all sorts of care—and whatever other service opportunities arise,” Godfrey said. “We hope to raise money next semester for tarps that can be used as shelter, so make sure look out for that. People at the Hagar also mentioned that people often donate unhealthy foods like donuts which is appreciated, but that if you are thinking of donating food, try to aim for something more nutritious.”

Collection boxes for the current donation are located in in the BSB atrium by the E Wing, across from the elevators on the first floor of Moody and in the SUB Den.