VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – A Virginia Beach woman who runs a charity to aid the homeless has been awarded a $5,000 grant from Jersey Mike’s Subs in recognition of her efforts.
News 3 has been following the efforts of 24-year-old Mariah Smith and her charity ‘Blankets for the Homeless’ since she started at age 17. She has been the recipient of our People Taking Action award and was voted to receive our People Taking Action Humanitarian Award in 2015.
Smith was nominated for the Jersey Mike’s Subs “Sub Abover” grant by Sharlene Barnett, who wrote, “Mariah Smith founded Blankets for the Homeless when she was 17 after she saw a homeless man at Sonic near her house. She and her family go out four nights a week in the streets of Hampton Roads, after the shelters are closed and full, delivering 50 blankets and lunches as well as coats, hats, gloves, jeans, walking shoes, tents, toiletries etc., to the homeless community.”
Since it started, “Blankets for the Homeless” has distributed over 200,000 blankets, lunches and other items to homeless people in the Hampton Roads area.
“This grant is the biggest blessing because we are non-funded and, as a growing organization, this will really help so many in need,” said Smith.
“It’s inspiring to read the stories of so many who are making a difference in someone’s life,” said Rich Hope, Chief Marketing Officer, Jersey Mike’s Franchise Systems, Inc. “That’s been a guiding principle of Jersey Mike’s since our Founder Peter Cancro bought his first sub shop at the age of 17, and we’re happy to recognize Mariah for fulfilling that vision.”
“There are so many ways you can make a difference,” said Smith. “People often tell me that they don’t want to give money to a homeless person carrying a sign so I encourage them to make and carry a ‘Blessing Box,’ with non-perishable food, water, socks, and a hoodie to give when they see them.”