GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A few days after the city of Grand Rapids cleared out a large homeless encampment at Heartside Park, two separate groups were out there on Christmas Day, providing help to the people who still call the downtown park home.
Gracie VanLangevelde, a West Michigan resident, spent the week leading up to the holiday collecting donations from friends and family. With the money, she stuffed 150 stockings full of hats, gloves, mittens, and snacks to give away on a snowy Christmas Day.
“Just to help these people out a little bit, get them off to the right foot in the new year,” said VanLangevelde. “COVID has been hard for a lot of people so we wanted to get together and do something as a family to give back to the community.”
Across the park, a group with a longer history but the same good intentions was giving out footwear. Geronimo Lerma, executive director of organization Footprints of Michigan handed out over 65 pairs of boots and more than 45 pairs of shoes with the help of volunteers. Every year on Christmas, Footprints picks a different city to go to; this year it was Grand Rapids.
“We care about the people that are out here,” said Lerma. “This is Christmas, this is what Christmas is about.”
To learn more about Footprints of Michigan, click here.