For 10-year-old Caroline Reeves, a YouTube video sparked a fundraising and awareness effort for Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter. The Cartersville resident collected about $75 for the Bartow nonprofit.
“What inspired me was a video about a man pretending to be needy and asking a homeless man for money,” said Reeves, a fourth-grader at Hamilton Crossing Elementary School. “The homeless man said, ‘Come back in one hour,’ and after one hour the homeless man gave the actor $140, which is all he had. The man was doing a social experiment and told the homeless man to keep it and then gave the homeless man extra money.“Some homeless people don’t even have $10, and he was saving money for a good reason. So I was inspired how that man gave another man all his money he had been saving for six months. I realized that some homeless people don’t have money to buy clothes or blankets. And some are sleeping in the streets where it is cold. I wanted to give money for them to get blankets and other things they need. So I made a poster and collection box and asked my teachers, neighbors, church and relatives to help out. I also used some of my Christmas money. ... It made me feel happy to accomplish my goal of raising $30 and being able to help the homeless people.”Since forming in 1996, Good Neighbor has served more than 6,500 people. On average, the 4,600-square-foot facility that was built in 2001 assists about 700 individuals per year. While they are housed, Good Neighbor’s guests are required to find a job within four weeks, and the shelter’s staff helps them establish savings, focus on problem-solving skills and chart out future housing options.“She actually saw a YouTube video that was talking about a homeless person. [After she] watched it, [the video] just really moved her to be really concerned about people who are homeless,” said Jessica Mitcham, Good Neighbor’s executive director. “... There were guests that were home when she was here [at Good Neighbor], and even for them to meet her and realize that someone as young as she was had learned more about homelessness, and what that would be like and wanted to raise money to help support what we do here is just really moving. ... It’s moving for our staff to see young people who are concerned about what can often kind of be interpreted as a grown up problem.”Grateful for Reeves’ donation, Mitcham revealed every contribution to Good Neighbor is a cherished gift.“Our organization is overwhelmingly funded here locally,” Mitcham said. “Every gift — small, big — makes a difference in us being able to keep our doors open every day and serve up to 30 people that can be here at the Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter and all of our families that are now in transitional housing.“Each day now, we’re providing shelter for upwards of 60 people — each and every day — including about 30 adults and 30 children. So every single gift helps us make that possible. And when new friends to the shelter, like Caroline, get involved, then she helps spread the word to a whole lot of people, who we may not have ever met before, who wouldn’t necessarily hear about the shelter normally. But she helped us spread the word to some new people, and now they’re new friends for Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter.”For more information about Good Neighbor, visit http://www.goodneighborshelter.org or call 770-607-0610.