Teen aims to help the homeless

There's a problem in Augusta that Richard Rees, 17, cannot watch grow.

He said he has seen too many people living under bridges and too many homeless being ignored to take no action.

With a senior project -- required of all graduating Greenbrier High School students -- Rees is hoping to push people to face homelessness head-on.

On Jan. 16, he is holding a concert at Journey Community Church to benefit Interfaith Hospitality Network.

The price of admission is a donation of clothes, furniture, hygiene products or other items that will help homeless families get back on their feet.

The concert comes after an eight-page term paper on homelessness he turned in to his English teacher.

Performing at the concert are Rees' rock band, Falling for 3, and Augusta acts Simple as Surgery, Brandon Reeves and Tyler Ghele. Rees began planning the show in September.

"If only five people show up, at least those five people know about (homelessness)," he said. "But it would be really, really cool to get as many people as possible."

The senior project is meant to make students research a topic and apply it in real life, he said.

Focusing on homelessness for the project will make a world of difference for Interfaith, said Director Sarah MacDonald.

Interfaith Hospitality Network provides temporary housing for homeless families and helps them establish residences of their own.

The donations from Rees' concert will help families and will remind the public of a problem too many choose to ignore, MacDonald said.

"The public really needs to become aware of our current situation here, and I think it's even more profound coming from a teenager," she said.

Homelessness came to Rees' attention last summer when he and his family vacationed in San Francisco.

After a breakfast, Rees boxed up his leftover pancakes and gave them to a homeless man he saw outside.

Despite the man's gratitude, it still didn't feel right, he said.

"I just thought 'Why does he just deserve my leftovers,' " Rees said.

He said he hopes the fundraiser will turn into an annual event and motivate people to do something about the homeless problem in Augusta.

"I don't want people to know (about homelessness); I want people to know and do something about it," Rees said. "I want the effect of this concert to go way beyond Jan. 16."

If you go

WHAT: H.E.L.P. benefit concert for Interfaith Hospitality Network

WHEN : Jan. 16, 7-10 p.m.

WHERE : Journey Community Church, 4798 Hardy McManus Road, Evans

ADMISSION: Clothing, hygiene products, office supplies, furniture

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