First Lady Cecile deJongh distributes a Tiny Token of Hope outside Mt. Carmel Catholic Church in Cruz Bay.
On Monday, October 10, First Lady Cecile deJongh launched the Tiny Tokens of Hope initiative to provide care packages, including personal hygiene items, to the territory’s homeless population.
The effort kicked off on St. John at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church and was launched on World Homeless Day and VI Homeless Day, as proclaimed by Governor John deJongh.
Departments and agencies of the Virgin Islands Government were encouraged to participate by collecting unused toiletries from travel and hotel stays, and dropping them off at any Government House location in St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John.
“In our work with groups and organizations that provide services to the homeless, while food, clothing and other items are regularly donated, we found that a missing piece was in providing toiletry items to assist their personal hygiene,” Cecile deJongh said. “Based on the success of the program thus far, I am pleased to invite the wider community to participate, providing support not only to our homeless population, but also to the service organizations that assist them on a daily basis.”
Noting the spirit of generosity and compassion that made possible the wide-scale donations, the first lady thanked the departments and agencies of the Government for their participation and encouraged individuals to continue to give.
“The Tiny Tokens of Hope program is a small but effective way to directly assist our homeless population,” she said. “Especially as the holiday season approaches, it’s a special way that we can all help make a difference.”
Participating agencies included the Departments of Human Services, Labor, Planning and Natural Resources, Police, Property and Procurement, the Office of Collective Bargaining, VI National Guard, and American Legion Post and Unit 102 on St. Croix. In addition, some government employees purchased items for donation, including washcloths, combs, and other personal care items.
As part of the Territorial launch, toiletries were also donated on Tuesday, October 11, to the homeless in St. Thomas, in partnership with the Family Resource Center, and at the Southgate Baptist Church Lighthouse Mission in St. Croix. Thanks to the generous contributions received, more than 300 care packages were created for distribution on VI Homeless Day.
The deJongh/Francis administration works closely with numerous groups and organizations year-round to assist community members who have fallen on hard times, or struggle with mental illness or addiction.
Project Homeless Connect events, for example, are observed every year to gather resources, including healthcare service providers, homeless advocates and volunteers, to provide a full array of medical and other services, to help manage the transition to stability and facilitate progress in the lives of our homeless population.
“As a community, it’s important that we take steps to let the homeless know that we care about their well-being and help them reconnect with society, to the benefit of all in the territory,” deJongh said.
The Tiny Tokens of Hope initiative will distribute toiletries to the Virgin Islands homeless population twice a year.