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While some complain about the homeless people in downtown Portland, Gladstone resident Bree Melton, her two children, Makayla, 16, and Jordan, 18, and some of their friends plan to actually do something about it on Sunday, Oct. 18.


SUBMITTED PHOTO - While Makayla Melton, 16, holds up a sign in downtown Portland, her mother, Bree Melton uses her clippers to give a homeless man a free haircut.On that day, they plan to swoop into downtown Portland, handing out lunches, hygiene supplies and gently used clothing to any homeless people they meet. Melton also is a trained beautician, so she will be offering free haircuts and beard trims.

And they would be most appreciative of any help the community can give them.

Preparations

On Oct. 17, Melton and her children will prepare lunches and fill toiletry bags, helped by members of the GHS volleyball team. Donations of nonperishable food items, new or gently used clothing and hygiene items are needed.

Items may be dropped off that day at 11 a.m. at Gladstone High School, 18800 Portland Ave. Monetary donations may be made to Melton’s Gofund me account at de.gofund.me/484htmv4. Visit Melton’s page on Facebook facebook.com/groups/789950211065742/ to make arrangements to drop off items. See sidebar on page 12 for more suggestions about how to help.

“This is the first time [the volleyball team] will be participating, but it will be amazing to have the help. I am one of the volleyball coaches at Gladstone, so it will be exciting to have the teams and young ladies involved in something so meaningful and important,” she said.

Although this is the first time she has had so much help, this is not the first time Melton and her children have encountered the homeless community in Portland.

“I started A Time to Give in November of 2013, after I returned from a visit in California, where I assisted with a homeless event for a friend. Coming home, I was motivated and inspired to have a similar outreach, for the homeless of Portland,” Melton said.

For their first foray into downtown, she, her children and two close family friends, Kayla Deane and Mike Wolf, made about 50 sandwiches, had bottles of water and only the unwanted clothes from their closets.

“We drove downtown, grabbed the clothes and sandwiches and hit the streets. It was late Sunday evening and fall was in full force. We were met with a lot of questions as to why we were doing this, but very quickly the homeless people became thankful for the clothing and sandwiches,” she said.

Outreach

Since then the outreach activity has grown, as far as the amount of clothing volunteers hand out and the additional things they provide.

“We have added toiletry bags filled with essentials for hygiene, we make full lunches consisting of sandwiches, snacks, fruit and drinks, and I have also started providing free haircuts and beard trims, to anyone that wants one,” Melton said.

In August, they made more than 100 lunches, gave away 80 toiletry bags, handed out hundreds of clothing items, and Melton provided numerous haircuts along park benches and curbs. All of the clothing items were donated from family and friends as well as some toiletries and some food items.

“The remainder of what we need I usually purchase. To provide haircuts, I purchased a portable power box, which allows me to plug my clippers in rather than use low-powered, battery-operated ones,” Melton said, noting that she disinfects all her blades and clippers between cuts.

Melton said she plans the homeless activities to respond to the changes in seasons.

“During an event, we load carts and wagons with the clothes, we fill our arms with bags full of lunches and toiletry bags, and we hit the streets. We walk all over downtown. We start at the parking lot on Fourth and Couch, walk under the Burnside Bridge, up around the park blocks and end near O’Bryant Park. We return to the parking lot to reload, at least two or three times,” she said.

Involvement

Because of her own and her children’s connections to Gladstone High School, Melton said she has had several young people join in to help hand out clothing, food and toiletries.

“Their involvement is important. It is an opportunity for them to give back to their community and to take the time to see the way of life from a different perspective. It gives them an opportunity to realize the importance of being kind to everyone, and that the smallest act of kindness can change a person’s life,” Melton said.

“I know my children and their friends enjoy doing these events. They enjoy meeting the people, having conversations with them, and they have realized the judgments and stereotypes that have been placed on homeless people. It has made them appreciate what they have,” she added.

“I got involved because I think giving is important. It is a humbling experience and really makes me appreciate the things I do have,” Makayla Melton said.

She added, “When I encountered the homeless, I talked with some of them, whether it was about the weather, their life, or what was in the lunch. I think people should help with these events, because it make you appreciate the things you do have. I have heard heartfelt stories from people who have just fallen on hard times. I enjoy listening to them and seeing them smile. It feels good and is humbling to help.”

Her brother, Jordan Melton, said he got involved, because he wanted to help others in need.

“I think it is important, because we help a lot of people, and it feels good knowing you were the one that provided a little bit of something, to someone who needed it. All I would like to say to anyone who is at all interested in joining us is they should. Don’t think about it; just do it. The feeling you get is great, seeing people smile and knowing you put the smile on their face,” he said.

Bree Melton added, “I always encourage them to bring their friends, to stop and take a few minutes and have a conversation with the people we meet, and to always be kind, because we never know what anyone else is dealing with and their kindness could save or change a life.”

Continuing to help

She said she will continue helping the homeless community in Portland because she knows she can change or improve the lives of other human beings.

“The homeless population in Portland is one of the highest across the nation. Many of the homeless have fallen on hard times or had circumstances beyond their control,” Melton said.

She added, “I get asked, a lot, why do I do this. My response is always the same: Why not? Why not put some smiles on other people’s faces? Why not show kindness to someone less fortunate? Why not set an example for my children and other people? The question should never be why do I do this; the real question is why not?”

Help the homeless

Here are a few ways to help with A Time to Give:

Donate unwanted clothing, blankets, tarps, jackets, hats, etc. Contact Bree Melton via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on Facebook at facebook. com/groups/7899502110657

42/, and she will arrange to pick up donations.

Hygiene items or nonperishable food may be dropped off at Gladstone High School from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday and Wednesday only, Oct. 12 and 14.

Volunteers are welcome to come to downtown Portland with Melton and her group on Sunday, Oct. 18, to help distribute lunches and hygiene kits. Contact her via email or Facebook.

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