Family Tradition Keeps Homeless Warm with the Help of U-Haul

Shayla Melick grew up in a family with selfless values.

“We try to do good by others and help give back when we can,” she said.

The 19-year-old said her family has always been able to provide for her and in turn she tries to give back to the less fortunate when she can. This is why every year on Christmas Eve, her family rents a U-Haul truck, picks up supplies and hands them out to the homeless.

The supplies vary every year. This past Christmas Eve, Melick and her family handed out over one thousand bags filled with toiletries, sweaters, scarves, feminine products and condoms for the homeless. Last year, they handed out blankets, socks and small packaged food items.

u-haul helps homeless

“We do this because we believe in doing good for others so they may one day do good by someone else,” Melick said.

It started last year when her aunt, Annette Collins, who throws an annual Christmas party decided she would use the money for a bigger cause.

This year, the family started collecting supplies right after Thanksgiving. They picked up sweaters from Kohl’s and toiletries from the dollar store. Toiletries this year included toothbrushes, toothpaste, hair brushes, soap and deodorant. Other miscellaneous items included children’s toys, scarves, gloves and prepackaged food items.

A week before Christmas Eve, they bagged everything collected, including a few donations from people who wanted to give supplies. For those who wanted to donate funds to support they effort, they set up a Gofundme account.

The Wednesday before Christmas Eve, the family loaded the items into a U-Haul truck. Then, on Christmas Eve, starting at 5am, they set out to spread some holiday spirit to the less fortunate.

Although most people who receive the bags are thankful, Melick said occasionally they do get people who are picky or not thrilled about getting help.

“But we stay positive, give them a smile and a bag and keep going,” she said.

She said they plan on continuing this tradition every year on Christmas Eve but better. When handing out the bags, the family takes feedback from the homeless in order to improve their bags next year. Last year, when they handed out blankets, some people said they would prefer sweaters and jackets because they can’t take blankets into the homeless shelters, she said.

That’s why this year, the family picked up clothing to keep the homeless warm instead of blankets.

“It was an extraordinary experience to help these people and hear their stories,” Melick wrote on her Gofundme account.

How have you helped others this holiday season? Share with us in the comments


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