Today, Kimberly Armstrong, the president of the nonprofit organization, has stepped up to continue that mission after the Trujillos decided to step down as president and vice president. Since its founding, the group has volunteered to work at animal shelters and orphanages. Group members have also worked to help feed the homeless and provide essentials for struggling community members throughout Northeast Tennessee.
The volunteers are working to gather winter clothes and other essentials for their Scarf Drive, which will be hosted on Oct. 20 from 2-6 p.m. and Oct. 21 from 8 a.m. until noon at the Fire Escape in Kingsport.
This, according to Armstrong, will be their third year serving the community. At last year’s Scarf Drive, the organization served 112 people.
“Danielle Trujillo and I had the idea in September of 2015 to host an event to give away free winter wear to the members of the community who may need some extra warmth during the winter season,” she said. “We had a few requests to hang the scarves and gloves outside for the homeless, but we wanted to do something more. We didn't just want to give people free winter wear, we wanted to make a bigger impact and serve our community face to face. Thus, TheHOPEproject Scarf Drive was born.”
As someone who has worked with other humanitarian organizations such as Americorps, Armstrong said she has learned just how much services like these are needed. She said most of the people served are homeless folks or low-income families who are struggling to access basic essentials.
And it’s often the little things that matter the most.
"You never truly know the impact you will make on a person. When someone tells you that they appreciate what you do because there's no one else out there that does the same, it humbles you in a way,” Armstrong said. “It fills your heart with hope and makes you strive to continue to pay it forward. Every member of our team, from our board of directors to our volunteers, has a heart to serve the community. We get to see real change in the world and experience the results of making a difference.
“We may be small but we have passion for people."
The group is still accepting donations of winter wear, personal hygiene items and prepackaged snacks and drinks. The volunteers will continue collecting these items until Oct. 9. Drop-off locations are at The Savvy Shopper and Decor Exchange in Kingsport.
Armstrong said it always takes the combined efforts of concerned community members and other partners to help provide for those in need, and she encourages more to get involved by donating or volunteering.
“TheHOPEproject is run on a volunteer basis. If it weren't for our volunteers and partners, we would not be able to do any of the things we do or have done,” Armstrong said.
For more information on how to help with the Scarf Drive or join their group of volunteers, visit TheHOPEproject’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/thehopeproject2015.