Cleveland woman gains support for homeless help
CLEVELAND, TN (WRCB) - With temperatures dropping, dozens of homeless people in Cleveland are thankful to get some survival essentials Saturday. A former homeless woman is gaining community support to save others from the street, but she's only getting started.
Channel 3 introduced you to Sharon Foskey last month. She opened a thrift store, Heavenly Treasures, in Cleveland. She's giving the homeless donated clothes and food for nothing in exchange. Any money she does get buys them more necessities.
She says thanks to that story, she's able to provide more help than she ever dreamed.
"There have been so many doors that have open because of that story," Heavenly Treasure's owner Sharon Foskey said.
After Sharon Foskey's story aired, she got a call from someone giving her a 2,400 square foot building in neighboring Ocoee to open a second Heavenly Treasures thrift store for the homeless. Now it's already full.
"It's a wonderful feeling! Indescribable," Sharon said.
Once people learned about what she's doing, several local businesses, agencies and churches got onboard to help-- first by organizing a "God's Work Rally" Saturday and handing out 100 backpacks of essentials for people like Deirdre Hullender.
"I didn't have anywhere else to go," Deirdre Hullender said.
"Some of the homeless people down here, we just don't have clothes and she's given me clothes for two or three months now," Marcella Gregory said.
"You don't miss the water until the well runs dry and we don't take anything for granted and we appreciate all the people reaching out," Donna Hagler said,"these are things you can't get with food stamps."
This mom, thankful she and her kids have a little more to live on.
"Really good things in there that will help keep us warm," Hagler said.
"I was homeless for five years so I know what they need to survive," Foskey said.
Sharon is sharing her story to inspire others.
"I've been abused most of my life and told I'd never make it and pretty much had given up on life, but then Jesus Christ stepped into my life," Foskey said.
"That really means a lot to know it's coming from somebody who's been there where you're at," Hullender said.
They all say a second, larger shelter is needed in Cleveland, and that's just what Sharon is shooting for next.
"There's a lot of hurting people out there and there's a lot of need. We're not trying to offer these people a hand out, we want to give them a hand up," Foskey said.
She is eyeing a 25,000 square foot building for a shelter that's sitting vacant in Cleveland. She's hoping the owner will either donate it or community members will help her buy it. She wants to get people with different areas of expertise to help mentor the homeless and hopes to get Cleveland State involved in helping educate them.