A Greek sorority and fraternity took to the streets in central Arkansas to deliver backpacks filled with food, toiletries and warm clothing to local homeless men and women on Saturday morning.
About 75 to 80 people from the Chi Eta Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and the Pi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. gathered in the Kendall Hall Center at Philander Smith College to pack about 50 backpacks.
An assembly line was created about 9 a.m. as members placed items — including non-perishable foods that required no heating — into a backpack, said Phillis Anderson, president of the sorority's Chi Eta Omega chapter. After all of the backpacks had been filled, members divided into groups and got into their vehicles starting about 11 a.m. to deliver the bags.
"We did it last year and there was so much gratitude from the [homeless men and women in Little Rock]," Anderson said. "They said that nobody has ever done anything like this for us. Nobody has ever come to us to bring us something."
The second annual backpack program is a part of the sorority's community service initiative related to global poverty, social justice and human rights, Anderson said. In 2013, the Chi Eta Omega chapter completed about 7,000 community service hours, including sponsoring the homeless backpack project.
Anderson said the backpack program was conceived after members had seen someone handing a cup of coffee to a homeless person on the street.
"That really touched our hearts and inspired us to take the food and items to people," she said. "A lot of the time, we require the homeless to [go to] where our services are and where our food is."
Donations were collected for the backpacks, but Anderson said the sorority also purchased items for the bags as well. She said it took a few weeks to collect the items and added planning the program took about a couple of months.
"We just are really excited about having the opportunity to use our gifts and talents to help other people," Anderson said.