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Anna Bibly - Teenager helps the homeless

By Carlos Briceño, editor

Teenager Helps the Homeless Through Her Confirmation Project

Anna Bibly, an eighth grader, needed community service hours as part of the requirements by her parish, Immaculate Conception in Morris. She reached out to several nursing homes and nearby homeless shelters, all of whom declined any offers of help. 

The pandemic makes some people wary of accepting anything these days. Finally, she discovered Daybreak Shelter, operated by a diocesan agency, Catholic Charities, who were thrilled by her offer to help. 

The shelter is open 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. It provides emergency housing and supportive services to individuals and families who are homeless. Some participants in the program are in need of short-term housing, as a result of a situational crisis. Others need support services as they work to reestablish permanent housing. Homelessness prevention services are also provided to individuals and families who are at risk of losing their homes.

What the shelter needed specific help in, Anna said, was personal care kits, which meant Anna needed to raise money to buy the necessary supplies for the kit, such as bars of soap and toothbrushes. These kits help homeless people stay sanitary and clean. The cost per kit usually runs around $7.

Anna said she wanted to do good because her faith teaches her that it’s important to help others. And so she put her heart into the effort. She established a GoFundMe page. The 13-year old went with two of her younger siblings around the neighborhood, knocking on doors, asking for money in person.

Overall, through the generosity of the community, family and friends, she was able to raise $710 in a week's time in November 2020. Because of the large amount of money, she was able to buy in bulk. The end result: she was able to put together around 200 care kits, with an additional $160 left over for kid-friendly snacks for children whose families go to the shelter -- all of which she delivered to Daybreak in early December 2020. 

She said she has learned a lot through the process.

“I’ve learned not to take things for granted,” she said, adding that it also made her realize what the needs are out there.