West Michigan woman continues drives to donate clothes, spread warmth to homeless

Posted at 5:24 PM, Dec 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-15 18:34:14-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Thursday, Shanna Kuiper collected as many blankets and warm clothes as she could in one week and took them to downtown Grand Rapids, opening her car's trunk and her heart to the homeless.

"I sleep off my car so this is perfect," said one man smiling, pulling a blanket out of a box in the snow.

As she unloaded her car - packed to the point where there was just enough space left for her to drive- she spoke with another man, saying she "wanted to come down and keep everybody warm."

Last week, Kuiper and her two daughters, ages four and 17, were discussing Christmas and decided to collect as many coats and clothes from their house. After speaking with people shivering in the cold, donating the items, she said she came home and went live on Facebook with a call to action for a second clothing drive.

"Those people were saying, 'God bless you,' 'thank you very much,' 'you don't know how warm I'm going to be,'" Kuiper said in her video. "I want to do more."

One week later, Thursday, she was downtown again spreading warmth: handing out clothing, blankets, hot chocolate, and food.

“I believe this was put in my way for a reason, and I’m not going to stop," said Kuiper. “It’s way too cold to be out here.”

"It's really a struggle," said Dave Campbell, explaining to FOX 17 he's been homeless for the past 15 years. "And it ain't just a certain type of walk of life, it's just--" he said turning his gaze away.

With a small group of one, five, then more than 10 men, women, and mothers, in the midst of choosing warm gear two men looked at each other saying, "this is a blessing." Then just across the street, another group showed up and handed out brown bag lunches, gloves, and hats with Progressive Building Services.

Spreading gratitude and kindness, Kuiper says she intends to continue to pay it forward.

"There’s just more we can do, and just would like to do it year round instead of just Christmas," said Kuiper. "But I’m glad that we gave them a good start to Christmas.”

Kuiper plans to continue to collect cold weather gear and hand it out to the homeless. Between Kuiper's ongoing efforts to raise money and collect warm clothing and blankets, if you would like to get involved you may email to reach her.