When Kimberly Sanders and the rest of the San Fernando Valley Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority presented L.A. Mayor Karen Bass with a certificate on International Women’s Day, she invited the group to her office to discuss a pressing matter.
Bass had declared a state of emergency four months prior and launched her administration’s Inside Safe program — a citywide strategy that aims to bring people inside from tents and prevent encampments from returning.
The conclusion of Delta Sigma Theta’s conversation with Bass culminated in an idea: While the sorority doesn’t have the funds or resources to literally move the homeless into homes, they believed it could provide them with the same sense of dignity that middle-class renters experience when they move in.
It’s a semi-common practice for landlords to provide new renters with a box or basket containing information about the area, gift cards to local stores, or toiletries and snacks. So when Sanders, the president of the sorority, and the rest of the group put their heads together, they thought, “Well, how about we help out with creating boxes for them once they move into their assigned home?”
“The box should be able to sustain someone for about 30 days,” said Sanders, a Santa Clarita native. “We have toilet paper, paper towels, dishwashing liquid, sponges, a set of towels for the room, hygiene products, washing detergent, and things that can sanitize the home as well — to basically set them up for success.”
Delta Sigma Theta is a historically African-American sorority founded in 1913 at Howard University with the goal of public service — particularly in the Black community.
While this particular sorority chapter is based in the San Fernando Valley, their coverage also includes the Santa Clarita Valley — where they’re currently trying to find an organization in need of such boxes. However, Sanders said their reach extends much further.
Sanders said that donations for these boxes, which can be found on an Amazon wishlist, came from all over the country. If people felt so inclined, they also sent gift cards, or the stores themselves would donate a gift card to their business.
“Seeing the community come together is truly, I mean, you can’t quite put it into words,” said Sanders. “Because … your efforts are going to benefit someone who is moving from living on the street into a home.”
At the time of this publication, Delta Sigma Theta has garnered 40 boxes worth of materials. They are required to meet a quota of 200 boxes by June 30 for Hope of the Valley — a San Fernando Valley-based nonprofit dedicated to fighting homelessness.
Their June 30 deadline for the quota also marks the end of Sanders’ term as president. The sorority’s project, which she helped start, is close to her heart, and she believes whoever picks up the baton will hold it close as well.
“If there are organizations out there that are in need, I welcome them. And it’s not just myself; the president that will take office on July 1 is of the same mindset. So, we are reaching out to identify organizations that are in need,” said Sanders.