Mental Health Association Oklahoma collects needed items for homeless

BetterBox Project sock drive collects new socks and undergarments for those in need in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. (Ann Sherman / Mental Health Association Oklahoma / provided)

BetterBox Project sock drive collects new socks and undergarments for those in need in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. (Ann Sherman / Mental Health Association Oklahoma / provided)

In the spirit of #GivingTuesday, a global kickoff of the charitable season after Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, Mental Health Association Oklahoma (MHAOK) hopes to help those in need with the BetterBox Project sock drive.

MHAOK is asking for donations of new socks and undergarments for men, women and children.

“Our answer to the call of #GivingTuesday is we’re extending it past Tuesday; we are giving the entire month to give,” said Alisha Fry, Pathways Case Management team leader.

Pathways Case Management is a grant-funded program within MHAOK.

New socks and underwear can be dropped off 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays at the Pathways Case Management office at MHAOK, 400 N. Walker Ave., Suite 190.

The sock drive is part of the BetterBox Project, an MHAOK public awareness campaign to educate the public about ending chronic homelessness by providing safe and affordable housing. BetterBox also connects those in need to critical services in the community.

“It’s about not just thinking outside the box; let’s get people into better boxes,” said Fry.

The BetterBox Project operates out of OKC and Tulsa.

Fry said the donation focus of the sock drive responds to needs of the homeless and newly housed.

“People who are experiencing chronic homelessness and people who have just recently moved into housing, which is the intention of our projects and programs, one of the things that are least donated are socks and underwear and those kinds of essential items,” Fry said.

Focus on advocacy

MHAOK is one of many Oklahoma organizations that focus on advocacy on behalf of the homeless population. The groups work together to reach as many of the unfortunate as possible.

“We have programs within the MHAOK, several of them, that do work towards ending homelessness,” Fry said. “Locally, we work in conjunction with the Homeless Alliance, The Journey Home Project, the Department of Veteran Affairs and different community agencies.”

Avocation and supporting the homeless struck with mental illness is one of the primary focuses of MHAOK.

Fry said one in four homeless people suffer from a diagnosed or undiagnosed mental illness.

“We are helping them get mental health services, which is really hard for a person who has been experiencing homelessness to be able to navigate those systems,” she said.

Due to concentrating on their next meal or where they will sleep for the night, many people without homes can’t afford to give much thought to standard medical care. Campaigns like the BetterBox Project help secure care for the unfortunate.

“We also help connect them to critical services in the community,” Fry said. “An example would be helping them to get preventative care, get personal doctors so they are not utilizing emergency services, therefore reducing the burden on the taxpayer.”

Fry said BetterBox helps people apply for Social Security disability services and any other resources in the community that might be beneficial to them.

Besides the sock drive, there are many simple ways to help the homeless.

“The Homeless Alliance downtown on Fourth Street, they are awesome at receiving donations for household items,” Fry said, “items you don’t think about when moving in like toilet paper and trash cans and stuff like that.”

She also said monetary donations to the BetterBox Project and MHAOK stay in Oklahoma and volunteering with the multiple organizations providing aid to homeless people in the area also helps.

 

Print headline: Giving socks, BetterBox Project holds a sock drive to help Oklahoma’s homeless population.

Adam Holt

This article was written by an Oklahoma Gazette contributor. To reach an editor, please email jchancellor@okgazette.com with this story's headline in your subject line.

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