Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Many are taking the Martin Luther King Junior holiday as a way to relax and catch up on errands, but some local groups chose to give back and make Monday a "Day of Service."
The Edgewood Foundation, United Way, City Year Columbia and Concerned Black Men Cares teamed up to collect warm clothing and canned goods to give to those in need. With homelessness a growing issue in Columbia, local groups say now is the time to help be part of the solution.
"Even though what we're doing here today could be considered minor in the big picture, just creating care packages, it gives attention to the issue of homeless," said CBM Cares Office Manager Tasia Stevenson. "Any attention with that issue is good attention."
"We all live together, we all share the same beautiful city, so we want to make sure that we're not just walking past each other, but we're engaged in the needs of our neighbors," added Executive Director and Vice President of City Year Columbia, Gail Wilson-Giarratano.
By the end of the drive, nearly 1,500 care packages were created to go out Thursday night when United Way groups throughout the state count the homeless population.
"It's part of a HUD requirement that every community do this in order to get HUD funding for homeless programs," said United Way President and CEO, Mac Bennett. "On Thursday night as we interview people and get information from our homeless population, we want to be able to give something back to them."
City Council members are currently gathering ideas for a long-term solution to the homeless issue, but organizations say it needs to be a public effort that doesn't end after one drive.
"This is a great start, but this has to be an ongoing process to really fight the big need," said Gwendolyn Singletary, the Executive Director of the Edgewood Foundation. "One day is great, we appreciate it and we'll take that, but hopefully when you come, the fire will ignite in you."
The canned goods drive is a joint effort with Gibbes Middle School and the food collected will be delivered to Harvest for Hope on Friday.