Danielle Cornelia, a junior studying elementary education at Cornerstone University, is using her childhood experience at a homeless shelter to bring dignity and hope to the Grand Rapids homeless this summer.
Cornelia has rallied summer student workers and Cornerstone employees to donate items to create 50 bags to be distributed to homeless on Division Avenue near Degage Ministries.
On July 27, she plans to hand deliver the bags with Savion Sanford, CU’s student government president. Both are leading small group Bible studies this summer and plan to use those participants to help distribute the bags.
Bags will include toiletries, umbrellas, bug spray, newspapers for job listings, lists of drug treatment programs, Bibles and church information.
“We will be praying over the next few weeks that God will lead us to the people he wants us to pray for and that his work be done through us,” said Cornelia who distributed bags to homeless in high school.
For four years her dad lived in a homeless shelter where Cornelia visited him everyday afterschool, playing monopoly with residents and hearing their stories.
“They were family to me,” she said. “I saw a lot of people come and go. They make a lot of mistakes, my dad made a lot of mistakes, but that doesn’t mean we look at them any less than others.
“We want to focus on what Jesus would do. He tells us to focus on the least of these.”
Cornelia’s dad was able to leave the homeless shelter but died in January.
“Because he was required to attend chapel at the shelter, my dad became a Christian and went back to the homeless shelter to give back some dignity to those that were there, still.”
Cornelia hopes to do the same by offering the homeless hope and someone to talk to.
“I know God told me to do this and I know I need to help my community,” she said.
To donate to the project, drop off small toiletries or Bibles at the Cornerstone University Administration Office before July 27.