Sisters start group in order to aid less fortunate in city

Published 9:08 am Friday, September 25, 2015

Compassion for those less fortunate was instilled in Stephanie Jenkins by her parents at a very young age.

Now, 17 years old, Jenkins took the next step toward helping the downtrodden.

On Sunday, Sept. 20, Jenkins started the social media group “Building the Community (Helping Jeffery and Barry),” on Facebook. Jenkins gained 85 followers in two days.

“Ever since I was little, I’d see Jeffery and Barry walking. I was just drawn to them,” Jenkins said. “As I got older, I’d still see them walking around. I decided to start a group on Facebook to see if anyone wanted to help.”

Almost immediately, people began joining the group. One local woman who wished to remain anonymous proved to be a large benefactor.

“A lady got in touch with me and told me she would donate our first care package,” Jenkins said. “She got a bunch of sanitary and food items at Dollar Tree. She then asked if we wanted to go to Walmart to get Jeffery some shoes, along with foam inserts and ponchos and other items.”

Jenkins posted on her Facebook page presenting Jeffery with the shoes. Jeffery has been observed walking with a distinctive limp around town.

Richard “Barry” Fleming is often seen dancing around Hardee’s and playing his guitar.

Jenkins said the group is not asking for monetary donations.

“A few people have asked if we accept monetary donations. We don’t want monetary donations; it’s strictly care items like shampoo, conditioner, tooth brushes, band aids and food and water,” Jenkins said.

Older sister, Krystle Ladner, works with Jenkins on the project. Jenkins said Jeffery appreciated the shoes.

“When we first got him the shoes, his old shoes were all worn through,” Jenkins said. “He was very happy about the shoes. He has a home, but you can tell he needs a little help.”

Ladner said Barry simply makes do with what he can. She said he often stays in a shed near where he once lived.

“We’re told Barry had a home on a piece of land he owns. Katrina had damaged his home and then it burned a few years ago,” Ladner said.

Jenkins said she thought about contacting organizations, which specialize in helping the needy.

”I’ve thought about getting in touch with Habitat for Humanity to see if they could build a home on his land, or if members of the community could build something for him,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins said as more donations come in, she wants to help other homeless people in Bogalusa.

“We want to see how this goes so we can help two more people that we know of,” Jenkins said. “Anything we can do to help any of them, we’re wanting to do. We’re not doing this for attention. We want the group to be the focus,”

The sisters said their parents told them they should always help their neighbors.

“Our parents taught us to help our neighbor,” Ladner said. “Mom has always been one to lend a helping hand. My father passed in 2008. Mom always taught us we should help if someone is in need.”