Helping the homeless through Head to Heels project



Students finish making care packages with hygiene products, clothing and food to prepare for the care package event at Calvary Episcopal. These packages were distributed on Feb. 19 by 30 White Station High School students.

Care packages made by Key Club and Health Occupations Students of America members are filled with necessities like gloves, socks and nonperishable food items. Students helped feed and clothe the homeless from 6:00-8:00 a.m. and reached over 125 people in need. (HANNIA ANTUNEZ//THE SCROLL)
Key Club and Health Occupations Students of America members provide support to the homeless population of Memphis. Products such as gloves, socks and wet wipes were given out as well as clean clothes and flu shots. (HANNIA ANTUNEZ//THE SCROLL)

A toothbrush, a blanket and a pair of shoes. These basics that most take for granted are what the homeless population of Memphis frequently go without. 

However, with the help of Calvary Episcopal and White Station High School student organizations like Key Club and Health Occupations Students of America, access to these everyday necessities has increased for hundreds in need.

“These [care packages] allowed people to not worry about certain aspects of being without a home,” Kamari Hawkins (12) said. “Some people can only get their clothes from [Calvary], and after each week they will throw away the clothes that they have and get new clothes. It’s nice to know that people have something that they know they can rely on.”

Money raised from previous Key Club volunteer events and student donations from HOSA allowed students to make over 100 care packages for the homeless. Students met in the library on Feb. 17 and had an assembly line sorting, packing and bagging these care products.

“Hannia [Antúnez] came up with this idea to make these bags for the homeless with necessity-type items like deodorant, soap, sanitary pads for women, wipes and some food items like tuna,” Key Club sponsor Elizabeth Kirby said. “We came up with this list and … ended up using the money they earned at the beginning of the year to [make the care packages].” 

On Feb. 19, 2023 at 5:30 a.m., over 30 participating members of Key Club and HOSA met in Calvary Episcopal’s parking lot to prepare for the distribution of care packages, clothes and even flu shots. 

“[The homeless] have nowhere to wash their clothes; they have nowhere to change; they have nowhere to keep their clothes, so they’ll come [to the church] and are provided with clothes,” Kirby said. “[They receive] really thick, good socks and are given underwear. You don’t think about these things because in your life you have these things.” 

The event not only provided the homeless with clothes and care packages, but also with free pancakes and coffee. In addition, Calvary Episcopal pushes to create a safe and helpful environment for the homeless by helping them receive food stamps and even help with filing their taxes. 

“We try to make everybody aware of the community [in need], and how we can contribute and make it a better place,” Kirby said.

While Key Club members mainly focused on distributing care packages and greeting the homeless, HOSA members focused on the health aspects of the event. The homeless were treated as patients and were given the opportunity to be seen by a nurse and connect with doctors. 

“A lot of [the homeless] were scared of the flu shot … and it helped me see people and what they are going through,” Karina Hernandez (11) said. “There are people that don’t have the connections or opportunities to get what they need … There was this [man] who said that he would get seizures often, and he didn’t have medication for it, and thankfully the nurse helped him connect to a doctor.” 

Every person at the event was given a name tag, allowing the homeless to be called by name and making the event more personal. Students were able to connect and provide for over 125 homeless people and help give back to the Memphis community. 

“It makes my heart very warm to personally impact someone’s day and make sure that I can spread my thankfulness,” Hawkins said. “Just speaking to people and making sure if they were okay, asking how their day was and being able to cater to them by saying ‘How would you like your coffee?’”

Students were able to reflect and realize that the food and clothes they are provided with are what hundreds of Memphians are not fortunate enough to have. They also gained a deeper knowledge of the uncontrollable situations that have brought many to require the care and everyday necessities provided by food and clothing drives. 

“Even though they’re homeless, they’re still people,” Kirby said. “[I] mean they didn’t choose this life. They lost their job, then they lost their house and had to choose other things.”

The homeless population must be seen, and with churches like Calvary Episcopal and organizations like Key Club and HOSA, they can be consistently provided for, even with items that seem as simple as a pair of socks. 

“[Working with the homeless] was definitely an eye-opener,” Hernandez said. “I was able to connect with them more and … I was able to see that there were people my age that needed the help.”