They're giving out hope

Resource fair delivers dignity to locals in need

Our homeless and destitute brethren on the streets are in need of most everything – including many things that go far beyond food, clothing and shelter.

Basic human dignity, for one thing.

The kind that comes from something as simple as a fresh haircut or a healthy smile. Things many of us take for granted.

It’s easy to clean up when you’ve got a home, work and money. Self-respect and self-worth are so much more at hand.

That’s what makes last week’s “Stand Down for Homelessness” resource fair at the Salvation Army on Greene Street so beautiful and profound.

The now-annual event affords the homeless and down-and-out in Augusta an array of free services such as haircuts and dental exams, food and other services, provided by nine area agencies.

It’s a win not just for those in need of a little caring and attention, but for those offering it: The resource fair gives hairstyling students from Augusta Technical College, for instance, a chance to ply their prospective professions.

But as much as Friday’s fair helped some 340 of our neighbors with the basics of the material world, it was as much a spiritual journey.

“It lets those who are less fortunate know people are concerned and care,” one beneficiary told The Chronicle’s Wesley Brown. “These days, with the economy being so sullen, we all could use a little hope.”

“It’s always a humbling thing” for the volunteers, the Salvation Army’s Amy Rickard told us.

The event has been staged for most of the past decade, but organizers in coming weeks and months will be discussing potential changes in the future – including putting it on twice a year instead of once, perhaps moving it indoors somewhere, and expanding the focus on the life-changing “give them a hand up” services available.

As long as they continue handing out the hope and dignity.

(With the holiday season upon us, there will be plenty of opportunities for all of us to help. If you’re not already involved in the United Way, it’s a great clearinghouse for volunteerism and contributions. Information on it and other area helping agencies is available by calling 2-1-1 on your phone.)

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