Helping the Those Without Homes Beat the Heat

Tent in Koreatown sheltering 12 people in yesterday’s heat. (Photo courtesy of Christine Johnson.)

While many of us are doing our best to stay as cool as possible in our homes during the current heat wave, the battle is even harder for those who don’t have homes at all.  But some committed neighbors and organizations are mobilizing this weekend with emergency efforts to distrubute water, food, and hygiene products to area residents most in need.

Volunteer Christine Johnson (center) with her daughter (right) and one of yesterday’s water recipients (left). Photo from Herb Wesson’s Facebook page.

Christine Johnson, former owner of Miracle Mile Toys, spent much of yesterday handing out water with the group Shelter for All Koreatown, to individuals camped on the streets of that neighborhood, where she lives.    It was “one of the most humbling things I’ve ever done,” Johnson posted on her Facebook page at the end of the day. “Some tents were one person. Some had many living inside. Some were elderly. About half women. Everyone wanted water, but ice cold/frozen was most appreciated. And everyone asked for food, which I did not have.”

The group’s effort was assisted yesterday by City Council President Herb Wesson, who donated 10 cases of water and also spent some time distributing bottles himself.

The Shelter for All Koreatown group will be handing out more water today, and one member – Angelia Harper – told the Buzz she is also collecting water, food and hygiene items for yet another distribution walk on Sunday.  Harper, known on the streets of downtown Los Angeles as “Big Mama,” has been helping people without homes for nearly 20 years, since she escaped homelessness herself.

Items Harper is accepting for her distributions – in addition to water (which is still desperately needed, especially cold or frozen) – include:

Sliced deli meat, cheese, bread, jam, packaged mustard and mayo, granola bars, fruit, fruit cups, cookies, Vienna sausage, bottled water, cup or bowl noodles, forks

Napkins, hand sanitizer, wet wipes (especially, said Johnson, cold baby wipes), flushable wipes, soap, socks, disposable washcloths, lotion, vaseline, deodorant, no-rinse perineal wash, alcohol pads, toothpaste, toothbrushes, drawstring pants or shorts, t-shirts sizes L XL and XXXL

Donations are being accepted until 2 p.m. on Sunday.  If you would like to contribute, contact Harper through her Facebook page, at,  or through the Shelter for All Koreatown group at

Finally, while the city does offer cooling shelters for all residents, including those without homes, the centers – and other shelters – may not be an option for some people, especially those with pets, which aren’t allowed at the facilities.  So donations and supplies specifically to help homeless pet owners, and their animals, would be very welcome through organizations such as Cloud 9 and Downtown Dog Rescue.

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About Elizabeth Fuller

Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - first in the Sycamore Square neighborhood, and since 2012 in West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill. She was long-time board member of the Sycamore Square Neighborhood Association, currently serves on the board of the West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill Neighborhood Association, spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and is the co-owner/publisher of the Buzz.

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