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‘Project Healthy Neighbors’ Helping Homeless This Winter

Posted: Nov 14, 2011 5:51 PM PSTUpdated: Nov 14, 2011 5:51 PM PST

SANTA BARBARA — Project Healthy Neighbors are helping the homeless for the seventh year by providing some of the necessities to keep they healthy and warm this winter.

As the temperature keeps cooling off, some of the homeless in the community aren’t prepared for the winter weather.

Being homeless comes with its challenges but the winter months bring more problems for those who sleep on the streets.

“This is the difference between life and death,” said Ken Williams, coordinator of Project Healthy Neighbors.

In order to help the needy prepare for the cold, the program is providing a free three day health and wellness event.

“Because when you’re homeless you’re struggling for day to day existence so you don’t often think about your medical needs,” said Williams.

There are multiple medical stations where people can get a flu shot, pneumonia shot and also be tested for HIV and tuberculosis. After going through the stations, the participants get a backpack filled with a winter survival kit.

“Besides the goodies that you get, you get the attention from the medical staff and a lot of homeless people don’t have the chance to go to places and get those tests and stuff because they don’t have any money, they don’t have insurance,” said Michael Gensler, who has been homeless since March.

More than 100 volunteers are helping out, including students from Midland High School.

“It’s kind of something that we don’t really see very often, we’re kind of far away from this kind of stuff and it’s just kind of eye opening to see so many people that are homeless and really need help and need medical care that can’t get it on their own,” said Emma Thorpe, Midland freshman.

At the end of the day, everyone got brand new shoes. More than 700 pairs were donated.

Project Healthy Neighbors has 600 survival kit backpacks to hand out. All of them include a poncho, sweatshirt, gloves a hat and an emergency blanket.

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