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Homeless for the holidays: How you can help

5:44 PM, Dec 24, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Generosity is one of the things the holiday season is known for, but donations for many local charities are needed year round.

"I was here when Ashley Street was just Ashley Street, I grew up in this area," tells James Michael Bostick.

Bostick calls the City of Jacksonville home, but the Vietnam veteran doesn't have a house or apartment.  The city's streets were his home until he entered the Clara White Mission.

"If it hadn't been for Clara White, I would probably be in a worse place than I already am,"  says Bostick. 

For hundreds of Jacksonville's homeless, the Clara White Mission is their safety net. It feeds a hot meal to around 400 people a day, opens a drop-in center, teaches janitorial and culinary skills and provides housing for men working to get into their own permanent homes.

While donations and volunteering jump around the holiday season, it drops off dramatically once Christmas passes. 

"Our appeal to the community is we are appreciative during the holiday time, but we are even more appreciative after the holiday time," says Clara White Mission president Ju'Coby Pittman, "Because we need help 365 days a year."

Financial donations help keep the hot food coming, but the Clara White Mission also needs hands to serve it. 

"It is important because you know where you are today, but you don't know where you will be tomorrow," says volunteer Nancy Webster-Crawford as she prepared to serve breakfast.

With tomorrows always being uncertain, support from the community is what keeps the Clara White Mission and other organizations like it open.

"It keeps your mind focused and I am able to do something to get back into society, instead of just going down," explains Bostick.

If you would like to donate to the Clara White Mission call 904-354-4162. You can drop off donations of books and clothes to their building at 613 West Ashley Street in Jacksonville.

For their website, head to www.clarawhitemission.org

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