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Supporters will be wearing pajamas to call attention to the number of homeless children that found safe shelter at the mission last year.
Courtesy of Roanoke Rescue Mission
Joy Sylvester-Johnson, chief executive of the Roanoke Rescue Mission, models the pajamas she'll wear Saturday as mission supporters parade around downtown to raise awareness for homeless children.
Friday, May 3, 2013
Festivalgoers in downtown Roanoke on Saturday shouldn’t be alarmed when they see others strolling along Jefferson Street in their PJs.
The pajama-clad festivalgoers may be sampling and enjoying chili, strawberries and other treats, but they won’t be napping.
They are Roanoke Rescue Mission supporters who are out to raise awareness of the number of homeless children in the Roanoke Valley.
Each walker represents one of the 477 children who found safe shelter at the Rescue Mission last year.
The number of children staying with their families at the mission has been increasing. They make up about 15 percent — averaging about 40 children a night — of the population in the mission’s shelters, said spokesman Matt King.
“Many people are unaware of the number of children that become homeless along with their families each year,” said Laura Johnson, family shelter manager. “We want people to remember the number 477 when they think about the issue.”
The awareness project purposely coincides with the annual Strawberry Festival, the Virginia State Championship Chili Cook-Off and Cinco de Mayo events taking place downtown.
“We thought it was a great opportunity to educate our community about the children,” said King, adding, “We made it really easy to participate. There is no registration. There is no starting line. Just download your sign on the Mission’s website and come to the events you were already supporting, but wear your PJs in honor of the kids in shelter.”
Each PJ-clad walker will sport a sign that reads “477” and have a digital bar code.
The bar code can be scanned by smartphone users to take them directly to the mission’s website to learn more about the mission and its children’s ministry and to make donations.
A “Pajama Parade” will take place on Jefferson Street from Elm Avenue to Salem Avenue between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
The Rescue Mission of Roanoke is a nonprofit organization that has been serving as a Christian crisis intervention center for Southwest Virginia since 1948.
It receives no government funding and is supported by donations from community partners.
The pajama parade is just one of the Rescue Mission’s weekend activities.
Mission officials will announce winners of the seventh annual Permanent Art Collection Competition during an awards reception at 2 p.m. Sunday in the headquarters at 402 Fourth Street.
All entries will be on display throughout the men’s shelter from Sunday through May 30, and the overall winning pieces will be hung in the Rescue Mission permanently.
The People’s Choice is a special category, and the winner is selected by overnight guests at the shelter.
For the first time in the event’s history, a special youth division winner also will be selected.
Mary Diller LaGue, collections manager for the Taubman Museum of Art, is judging the adult entries and Annie Waldrop, an adjunct professor at Southern Virginia University and Hollins University, is judging the youth division.
For more information about the Rescue Mission, visit www.rescuemission.net or call 343-7227.
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