WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A recent Arctic blast brought with it 12 days of below-freezing temperatures, inches of snow, and icy conditions to Kansas.
While many stayed close to home, doing everything in their power to stay warm during the winter weather, some people had nowhere to go.
“Just seeing individuals sleeping outside is probably one of the most hardest parts,” said LJ Hermreck Jr.
Hermreck, a Wichita resident, said watching strangers endure the winter weather was almost too much to handle. Instead of ignoring the problem, he decided to jump into action. He created the Anything Helps Project.
He put out a plea for donations on Facebook the second week of February. Within days, he raised more than $200. He then used the money to buy cold-weather gear and QuikTrip gift cards.
“I would be very blessed if somebody walked up to me with some gift cards, with some food, some hand warmers when it’s in the negatives and I am just standing outside,” Hermreck said.
During the cold snap, Hermreck spent hours in his vehicle, driving up and down the streets of Wichita searching for people in need. In just one day, he managed to help more than a dozen people. He even used some of the donated money to get an individual a hotel room for several nights.
“A blessing, a wonderful individual,” said donation recipient Jude Myers. “Wichita has been good to me. Wichita has been good to us.”
Like Hermreck, many other Wichitans stepped up to help strangers in need. The Church on the Street used donations to clothe, feed and house hundreds of people.
“Look, I am nobody special man, but I tell you who is special is the 9,000 people who have shared that post about getting these people off the street and into these hotels. You are the ones that are special. You guys made this happen,” said Pastor Darrell Patterson in a Facebook post.
Pastor Patterson went on to thank the Wichita community for stepping up and helping to make a difference in the city.