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  Jennifer Karaffa and a team of volunteers distribute care packages to the homeless Nov. 30 in Mount Clemens. Around 40 care packages were put together for homeless individuals in Mount Clemens, with nearly 50 people donating to the cause. Karaffa, pictured above holding a bag, led the effort.

Jennifer Karaffa and a team of volunteers distribute care packages to the homeless Nov. 30 in Mount Clemens. Around 40 care packages were put together for homeless individuals in Mount Clemens, with nearly 50 people donating to the cause. Karaffa, pictured above holding a bag, led the effort.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Woman leads effort to assist homeless Mount Clemens residents

By: Alex Szwarc | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published December 5, 2019

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MOUNT CLEMENS — A touch of generosity was on full display recently in Mount Clemens.

On Nov. 30, near downtown Mount Clemens, Jennifer Karaffa and a team of 12 volunteers distributed care packages to over a dozen homeless people.

“Every person we came in contact with was so grateful and thankful for us being there and handing them things they wouldn’t be able to get on their own that we take for granted,” Karaffa said.   

Karaffa and Lauren Engelbert, both of Clinton Township, have children in first grade at Erie Elementary School in Clinton Township.

The two went to Dakota High School together, but didn’t know each other at the time.

This was the first time that Karaffa headed up an effort like this.

“I love Mount Clemens so much, and I saw the homeless population growing. I wanted to do something more on a local level,” she said.

Karaffa’s mother, Gabby Ryle, has distributed items to homeless people in Detroit for over 10 years, something her daughter took notice of.

Ryle worked as a substance abuse counselor in Detroit, and Karaffa said she wanted to do more direct work with homeless individuals.

“She’s grown up with her mom doing it and passing out supplies,” Engelbert said.

Supplies that were collected include gloves, hats, blankets, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, feminine hygiene products and more.

Around 40 care packages were put together, with nearly 50 individuals donating to the cause.  

“Since we’ve already had our first big snow and it’s already been really cold, I wanted to see if my friends and family would buy some blankets and we’ll pass them out,” Karaffa said. “It bloomed into more than that.”

Starting the second week of November, nearly $600 was raised in donations.

“I couldn’t be more humbled and thankful for their help and effort into wanting to help,” Karaffa said.  

The majority of the volunteers were from Mount Clemens and Clinton Township.

“People asked us what organization we’re with, and our answer was, ‘We’re just people,’” Karaffa said. “We want to help others, and I hope people can take away that you don’t have to be part of a group to make a difference.”

Engelbert said Karaffa’s motto is “Be kind. She’s always telling others to be nice to one another, and she’s wonderful.”

“I feel like helping those less fortunate is my life’s purpose,” Karaffa said.

She’s even taking classes in psychology and social work, with hopes of making a career of helping others.

Engelbert’s belief is that the efforts of one person can impact many.

“If one person can do that, just imagine what 10 people can do, and (how) many people they can serve,” she said. “Not even in cold weather, even in the summer, we can show people they’re humans and just because they’re outside doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be looked at and talked to.”   

Anyone wishing to make a donation may contact Karaffa at jennifer.karaffa11898@gmail.com.

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