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‘We can change lives’

Many hands will be extended to homeless and hungry people next week.

Due to the burgeoning homeless population in Laguna Beach, the city’s Housing and Human Resources Committee, Relief and Resource Center and Friendship Shelter have united to honor “National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness” week, an extension of a nationwide effort created by the National Coalition for the Homeless and National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness, to provide aid and raise awareness.

The event will take place Sunday through Nov. 7 in various areas of Laguna, and will aim to collect food and clothing items for the homeless, encourage understanding of homelessness and educate the public about its underlying causes and possible solutions and will include art and music presentations by homeless residents.

Faye Chapman, event chairwoman and member of the Housing and Human Services Committee and Task Force, said the main goal is to acquire 50,000 pounds of food.

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“We are optimistic that this will help cover the growing need for food items at the Resource Center and to assist the Friendship Shelter in feeding the 32 residents in its program,” she said. “We are looking for 1-pound bags of rice, beans, tuna and other nonperishable food items.”

Chapman, who said her volunteerism is partly inspired by her own homeless struggles more than a decade ago, said it is her purpose in life to put a heart and soul to the faces of the shadows, and she is happy to see Laguna acting as a role model for other cities.

“I hope other cities will step up and take care of their citizens who are home-challenged,” she said. “If we all work together, we can change lives.”

Bins for donations and food items will be placed in locations throughout the community, including schools, churches, real estate offices and stores. A “Shoe and Sock Drive” will be held Tuesday, designated as Youth Involvement Day, which also seeks clothing items (especially warm apparel and coats), blankets and backpacks.

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Other activities include an opening day of fasting, dinner and silent auction, the premiere of “You and Me: The Story of We,” a documentary film created by Laguna Beach High alumnus Joey Valenti that seeks to highlight the similarities between all people; an “Outsider Art” show that will feature creations of homeless or formerly homeless artists; a live music show by homeless musicians; and a book signing by Chapman for her 2007 photo book, “Faces of the Shadows: Life on the Street.”

Presentations will also be given by the Orange County Partnership’s Dawn Lee and Laguna Beach Police Officer Jason Ferris, who works with the homeless, at the Housing and Human Services meeting, where they will provide educational materials and hold a question and answer session.

Oakley Frost, chairman of the Housing and Human Services Committee, said the public is encouraged to attend.

“It’s important that we get this information out to locals and encourage compassion for the homeless,” he said.

Frost said he hopes this will become an annul event.

For more, call Chapman at (949) 280-2885 or e-mail fayechapman0@gmail.com.



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