The economic problems caused by the pandemic have put many more people at risk for homelessness, but they've also inspired one Tulsa woman to help the homeless over the holidays.
One activist helping the homeless population said this isn't the most wonderful time of the year for everyone.
Homeless, Miriam Walker told News On 6, has a name.
“His name is Robert and his brother died while he was babysitting,” said Miriam Walker, author of “Homeless Has a Name.” "He started drinking. He couldn't keep a job, and now he's homeless."
Walker said it was sobering to learn of her own family member's sleepless nights on the streets, which is something she discovered a few years ago when he showed up at the Dream Center while she was volunteering.
"It birthed something inside of me,” said Walker. “This was somebody I grew up with. We went to church together, we fought together."
For some, Walker said, the pandemic has meant mourning the loss of a loved one, while for others, it's meant losing their homes. Walker said she's served more young adults than ever before and has seen entire families in transition. She said when they leave shelters for even a moment, they have to take all their stuff. Often, Walker said, their belongings are stuffed in plastic bags.
"Every person that you see on the street walking around with tattered Walmart bags with their lives inside, that's not just a homeless person,” Walker said.
Walker set a goal, as an early Christmas present, of collecting 150 new or gently used duffle bags she's filling with hats, socks, and gloves to pass out Sunday at Wesley Chapel in Tulsa.
"It is a cataclysmic meeting of two different sides, and I believe this is what I'm supposed to be doing,” Walker said.
Walker told News On 6 she's amazed by this city's generosity and said it's humbling receiving donations from people who are struggling themselves.
"These aren't for me. I'm just the go-between,” said Walker. “These are from the people of Tulsa, Texas, Nebraska, California."
Walker said she’s collecting donations through this Saturday. For more information on how you can help, click here.