Out of Office: A Q&A with Alisha Burda, Care Packages for the Homeless

Alisha Burda, Joint Ventures Reporting in Regency's Jacksonville office, recently helped to organize a care package drive to serve homeless men and women in the community. Along with a small group of other women at Regency, Burda volunteered to create and assemble 50 bags that the group then handed out from downtown Jacksonville all the way south to St. Augustine.

CompletedBagsThe group assembled 50 bags to hand out to homeless men and women in the community.

RC: How long has the group been around? How often do you meet?
AB: Since 2017. I started it when I came back from being a stay-at-home mom. I missed the ability to go to Bible studies during the week and checked with HR to see if I could start one here! They were very receptive. Through word of mouth, we were able to get some interested parties. The feedback from the women in the group has been mind-blowing — I hear all the time how grateful they are to have this small “community” of women within work to help support and encourage each other. We meet during lunch every month or so — there are 13 women from around the company who participate.

JaxgroupAlisha Burda, Quisha Snead, Amy Schmitt, Tabitha Thurgood, Sarah Cole, Cindy Staples, Mariana Perez

RC: Is this your first time doing a community based project — the care packages/bags for the homeless? How did that come about?
This was the first time doing a community based project. One of our group members, Mariana Perez, suggested the project. We all loved the idea and quickly formed a plan to make it happen. We wanted to include our children in the project as well, so we had our kids decorate and color the bags.

RC: What was in each of the care packages?
AB: A water bottle, granola bar, cheese and cracker pack, trail mix, deodorant, hand sanitizer and a letter.

How did those you passed out the bags to and interacted with respond to this outreach?
AB: Everyone’s feedback was that the recipients were truly touched, and a bit taken aback. You could tell that they were surprised to be handed a gift bag full of goodies. The bags were very well received. To be able to spread a little hope and a little light in such darkness is a blessing in and of itself. I know the people I handed the bags to seemed genuinely grateful, and a bit surprised. Their smiles were heartwarming.

RC: Where did your group hand them out?
AB: We all handed them out in different places around town. I kept the bags in my car to have handy when we see people asking for money on street corners. It sets a good example to our children who may be in the car too. One of the women handed them out with her daughter during a school field trip to St. Augustine.

RC: How do others get involved if they're interested?
AB: Attendance has been through word of mouth. We are always open to having others get involved, and if they are interested they can reach out to me. We are about to start a brand new study sometime in February, so it would be a good opportunity to join. The new study is called “Present over Perfect” by Shauna Niequist.