For the homeless, living outside in the elements in Southwest Florida is a real challenge. When faced with the downpours the rainy season can produce, it can be brutal.
That's why LCEC is trying to do something about it.
It recently expanded its readiness efforts to help the Lee County Homeless Coalition meet the needs of the area homeless by teaming up to put together items for summer bags that will go out to the homeless.
And its outreach efforts began with the help of a North Fort Myers couple.
Jerry Phillips, a security guard at LCEC, mentioned to some of his colleagues that his wife, Sharon, who works to help the Lee County Homeless Coalition once a week, was putting together summer bags for the homeless.
"He mentioned it to me and I said we should put it in our newsletter and see if there are employees interested in helping out and it took off from there," said Karen Ryan, public relations manager at LCEC.
Before long, donations flew in, including never-used rain gear that did not meet fire-retardant requirements for LCEC crews.
"LCEC is always involved in these things, so I asked my husband if anyone would be interested in even putting in a donation box," Sharon said. "They couldn't wait to get involved, so LCEC has been a big help in getting this going."
Now, employees are passing the request along through traditional and social media, in the hope that other companies and residents will donate items to make summer a little more bearable for those without a home.
"Even if we just did that, it would be a huge help for the homeless. They're out there with no roof over their head, so the rain gear is just a blessing," Ryan said. "We're thinking if everyone donates a little stuff, it would help these people a lot."
Bags will be put together by Lee County Homeless Coalition volunteers and distributed to the homeless. Needed items include, rain ponchos, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, lip balm, dry socks, hats, bus passes, and personal hygiene items.
"Being outside here you see mosquitoes are coming, the rain, and think about what it's like to be homeless in the summer," said Janet Bartos, director of the Lee County Homeless Coalition. "We thank LCEC. We have such a generous community here in Lee County."
For more information, contact Bartos at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Lee County Homeless Coalition is a non-profit organization comprised of community and faith-based service providers, local businesses, and people who are either homeless or who have experienced homelessness.
The Coalition's mission is to advocate, educate and promote awareness of issues facing the homeless in the Lee County through community collaboration, planning and implementation of solutions.
Bartos said the homeless population in Lee County increased last year by 2.7 percent. For families, it was up 19 percent.