Winter weather has arrived in North Texas, and for people living on the streets that means they have to battle the cold. Several individuals, however, have come together to help keep the less fortunate warm.
The Warm Hearts project gave away more than 20 sleeping bags and goodie bags to people living on the streets in Dallas this past week.
The group, founded by Paul Kimberly, who works in Anna, works to help the homeless by keeping them warm in the winter. Kimberly said he first got the idea in 2012 after a homeless man was found dead behind a church in Dallas due to the cold weather.
“Literally all this started because of that man passing away and freezing behind that church, and we felt that we’ve been real blessed with our business and blessed with our own lives, that we just wanted to share and give it back and we continue to do that every year,” Kimberly said.
Kimberly collects the sleeping bags at his business, Big Brothers Pest Control, in Anna along with $5 McDonald’s gift cards, toothbrushes, and toothpaste.
Normally, he said, he would wait until a weekend later in December to hand the items out, but since the temperatures have dropped he decided to hand out all the items donated so far.
“When you’re handing out these types of items, I mean your heart goes to them,” he said. “It’s like, ‘What could we have done to do more?’ And so we literally would take the time and drive around within a block to three-block radius of these homeless shelters and hand them out to small groups.”
This year Kimberly, his wife and a young girl home from the Air Force who is stationed in Germany, all made the drive to the Bridge Shelter in Dallas where they handed out the items. Kimberly even dressed up as Santa Claus for the occasion.
The goal for this year’s Warm Hearts drive is to collect 75 sleeping bags, he said. Anna Dental and Paradise Dental in Melissa have both donated toothbrushes and toothpaste for the drive.
Anna residents Joe and Becky Greer and Paul and Tena Norrell both donated $100 each.
Kimberly said he added hand warmers to the goodie bags this year and plans to hand out more items on Dec. 17. To donate, bring a sleeping bag, a warm weather accessory, such as a beanie, scarf, gloves or hand warmers, to Big Brothers Pest Control before Dec. 17.
“We’re always trying to give back to our community,” he said. “It’s just our way of saying thanks. Our community here, Anna, Melissa, Van Alstyne, has been good to us.”