The Oxford Eagle
As the holiday season approaches, some Oxford residents are working to ensure that everyone stays warm this winter through a new program called Operation Warm-Up.
Two years ago, Allison Nooe, 33, visited Atlanta for New Year’s Eve, and she was shocked to find homeless people sleeping on the street in the cold.
“I was horrified, when we were walking back to our car, at the number of homeless people spread out on the ground,” Nooe said. “We were having to step over them. I have never seen anything like that, and it just stuck with me over the years.”
Nooe decided to take action and, during the week of Thanksgiving, placed drop-off boxes at various locations around Oxford. The boxes, intended for people to drop off new or used clothing, are located at Smoothie King, Twisters Frozen Yogurt, Oxford CrossFit, and the Turner Center at Ole Miss.
The donations are collected a few days after Christmas and are evenly distributed to homeless shelters by six volunteers in Atlanta and eight volunteers in Jackson on New Year’s Day.
“Last year in Atlanta, we pulled over to the side of the street where we saw a couple of homeless people, and the word got out really quickly,” Nooe said. “They just started coming to us because there was a homeless shelter right around the corner, so we got rid of all of the donations right there on the street.”
Last year, Nooe raised $900 dollars on the popular fundraising site, GoFundMe.com to pay for the volunteers’ trip to Atlanta.
Nooe said once the Atlanta trip is paid for this year, the remaining funds will go towards the Rolling Tigers wheelchair basketball team. The team based out of Jackson is comprised of United States veterans injured during war who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder.
“I lost a good friend this year who dealt a lot with PTSD with his seven tours in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Nooe said. “I know the coach of the team, Antonio Wright, so we collaborated and thought it would be a great way to give back to them.”
In an effort to raise more money, Nooe is hosting a fundraiser Dec. 12 at Cerami’s Italian restaurant. There will be live music and all you can eat pasta.
Each year, Nooe said she will try and exceed the amount she collected from previous years. She will also work to expand Operation Warm-Up throughout the Ole Miss campus and Mississippi.
“I would love to get the athletic department and Greek life involved next year,” she said, “and maybe have a contest of some sort with the end result, feeling unity by helping out the homeless.”