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Hampden woman helping the homeless through grassroots group

(WABI)
Published: May. 18, 2018 at 4:49 PM EDT
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For the last several years, Ann Sweeney has been handing out hope.

"We read a column about helping the homeless. My husband was ill, so we had to find a project to keep us busy. Homeless was that project," she says.

It started with personal care packages which she still gives out, but as word got out and time went on, she started collecting other things she hoped would also help.

"Every time we turn around we're adding things, like we hand out backpacks to the shelters a couple times a year, but we look for jeans, sleeping bags, hoodies, things of that nature, along with the hygiene products."

Ann is now retired and runs her group primarily through her Hope For Homeless Facebook page. While she and her husband purchase most of the items, she says she's seen some incredible generosity.

"It's a lot out-of-pocket. We have some generous friends, and when I say generous, $5 is generous. $10 is generous. I did a fundraiser for my birthday."

Ann is now a familiar face at shelters like the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter.

"She's a guardian angel. Ann and Hope for Homeless have been great support for the shelter and to the homeless community in general. Some of the things she brings are the things that aren't in our budget," says Executive Director, Boyd Kronholm.

As for the future of her project that has turned into a personal mission, she says she will keep going until there is an end to homelessness.

"It makes you feel good, but sometimes you feel very overwhelmed and sad that you're not doing enough. Can I do more? What else can I do? How can we stop this? You know, but we have to give them hope."