Terry Jenkins, the CEO of Da House of Ooh Wee, several of her supporters and many community leaders came together Saturday afternoon to spread love.
Jenkins, who heads the charitable organization in East St. Louis and is known throughout the community as T-Baby, said she could not sit at her home and enjoy the things she has without spreading the love in her heart with people who are in need.
She organized an event that she called “Warm A Trunk.” For several hours, people were able to come to 25th and State streets to get donated items.
Some of it was new, and some gently worn. It didn’t matter. All of it was needed. People came by in steady numbers to pick out some things they needed. The group later moved to Washington Park and did the same thing. They also drove through some alleys and went to places they knew homeless people frequented.
Jenkins said the plan was to reach as many people as possible to make their holiday season one that the season is really about: love, happiness and cheer.
“All of us must care about each other. When we do this, a real difference is made,” Jenkins said.
“My city is hurting. Some people fall short. They just don’t have it. People with lots of stuff in their houses, need to donate it to us. We don’t want them to throw the things away they no longer use. We want to give it to someone who has a need for it,” Jenkins said.
Debora Pawnell was one of those who came to pick up some items. “I thank God for these people. I love what they are doing for the community. They are doing God’s work,” she said holding a child’s coat, some gloves, small shoes and other things.
Nicole Brazil, whose organization is called “I Am You,” joined up with Jenkins to “do something for the community,” she said.
“If we come together changes can be made. We knew it was cold outside, but we didn’t let it deter us. People are important to us and when they don’t have things that we can provide them, we don’t feel good. This was a huge community effort. And, together, we did make a difference,” Brazil said.
St. Clair County Circuit Judge Zina Cruse, St. Clair County Clerk Kahala Clay, East St. Louis City Councilman Robert Eastern, St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern and several members of the local Muslim community came out to help Jenkins. She said Clay made a huge donation of clothes and other things.
Cruse said she learned about the event while perusing on Facebook.
“I saw T-baby going live and my goddaughter, Nicole, was with her. I saw what they were doing,” said Cruse. “I gathered coats from my family, hats and gloves.
Tina Ivory. who is a social worker, sat on the back of a truck and handed out cold-weather gear to people who came up without gloves, hats and scarves.
“We’ve been blessing the community like this for over 10 years. We have blessed over 20,000 families,” Ivory said.
Eastern said: “Every time we started running out of things, people drove up and gave us lots more. We are very grateful to the donors.”