Highland Park nonprofit Avalon Village donates clothing to the needy

Highland Park nonprofit Avalon Village donates clothing to the needy

For more than 15 years, a woman from Highland Park has been running a donation fundraiser to keep locals warm during the winter season.

Highland Park nonprofit Avalon Village donates clothing to the needy

Shamayim “Mama Shu” Harris founded Avalon Village nonprofit in Highland Park with the goal of transforming destroyed blocks into community spaces. Every year around holidays, Mama Shu runs the “Keeping Our People Warm” drive, where she collects hats, gloves, socks and blankets along with water bottles and herbal teas to donate to those in need during the colder months. Designed paper bags contain several items and a note in the style of, “Stay warm, with love,” Harris said.

“When they know that many people do not have warm things in the winter, when they see people’s hands exposed to the elements, no hats and people who take the bus to work and are dependent on public transport, they need these things to keep “And for the kids, they go to school, and many times the kids don’t have enough of these things. They come to school without coats or gloves,” Harris said.

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Mama Shu talks to a group of University of Michigan students visiting Avalon Village.

She also donates winter equipment to Highland Park schools, which staff can provide to students who may need it.

The drive runs from December to February, and volunteers help distribute items to senior centers, individual homes or Highland Park schools for preschoolers to eighth grade.

Harris also typically holds a “soup and sock” day, where volunteers served hot soup and provided socks, a blanket, hat, or other warming material for the community, but the pandemic put the food aspect on hold.

“I get text messages saying, ‘Mama Shu, that’s so nice.’ I once got to give myself a cake. Sometimes it’s not that big, they felt it was a necessity. : ‘I like the things you give away because they’re things people do not think about,’ Harris said.

Mama Shu is seen in the ruined neighborhood she is about to change to create Avalon Village in Highland Park on May 15, 2017.

Harris is planning a similar package event for seniors on Martin Luther King Day. Last year, she delivered 100 bags each in five different senior center buildings filled with herbal teas, honey, lemons and other things.

Anyone interested in volunteering or donating can visit avalonvillage.org.

Dana Afana is a Detroit City Hall reporter for Free Press. Contact Dana: dafana@freepress.com or 313-635-3491. Follow her on Twitter: @DanaAfana.

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