According to the Mississippi Kids Count data for Webster County, 21.5 percent of the county’s population live below the poverty level, and of the population of people from ages 0-18, 32 percent live in poverty.
“There is a great need right here in Webster County — it’s mind-boggling,” said Freda Jones, county director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services in Webster County. “A lot of time, we have kids that are transported to different places due to abuse or other situations and many times they have to go without any belonging. To have anything, like a blanket or a stuffed animal to call their own, is so important. There are so many children right here in Webster County that have great needs.”
Karen Collins works as the office secretary at Eupora Elementary School, and on a day-to-day basis, the needs of the community are evident in lots of little faces.
“God laid upon my heart to doing something in my community,” Collins said. “I was not sure what it was at the time. So I prayed and prayed some more. When God gets a hold on you…you just have to do it! And after speaking to my family about it, I decided to do a blanket and toy drive.”
The Gifts of Love program is held the second Tuesday evening of every month at the Stewart Fire Department. People from throughout the community are asked to bring warm blankets and toys by the fire department on the designated day or residents can drop “gifts of love” by Ann’s Flowers and Crafts in Stewart. Collins will host a blanket and toy drive event monthly throughout the year.
“I work with kids everyday so I know there is a need in Webster County as well as Montgomery County,” Collins said. “And as far the elderly, they just want ’love’ and to know the are wrapped up in a blanket you gave out of love is an awesome feeling.”
Gifts of Love donations will go to churches, schools and nursing homes in Webster County and to Mission Hope and Winona Manor in Montgomery County.
For more information or to make a donation to the Gifts of Love program, contact Ann’s Flowers and Crafts at (662) 262-7154.