ELYRIA — Almost 28 years ago, Lorain native Holly Jackson and her child left an abusive relationship and became temporarily homeless — scraping by for everyday items she before had taken for granted.
Now, Jackson works to make sure no one has to go through what she did.
With a collection of little bags filled with toiletries, hygiene products, children’s shoes, toys and other items, she decorated the fence outside of the Family Video on Broad Street in Elyria for people in need Wednesday.
“They wouldn’t need to feel bad about asking for it, they can just grab it,” the Cleveland resident said.
Jackson, the founder of the Cleveland-based organization Walls of Love, has spent months providing free items for people in need.
Since November, Jackson has been creating these walls in various locations, starting first in Lorain. She got the idea from seeing people walking around in the winter months without shoes or gloves and wanted to find some way to help them. That’s when she got the idea to create a wall of those needed supplies attached to different fences, railings or walls.
The organization, which became a certified nonprofit organization in early May, generally has about five volunteers. Sometimes, depending on which community is the focus, additional volunteers step up.
In the warmer seasons, Jackson said she includes things like flip-flops and sunscreen instead of gloves and wool hats. She includes hygiene products year-round.
The walls have an average of 100 to 200 items sealed in individual bags, with at least 50 on the smallest walls and as many as 1,100 on its biggest walls, which was done in Cleveland.
As of Wednesday, the group has assembled 120 walls since November and estimates it helped as many as 13,800 people. The group has spread to locations in Northeast Ohio, including Cleveland, Brooklyn, Warrensville Heights, Shaker Heights, Elyria, Lorain, Ravenna, East Cleveland and Euclid.
Jackson said she rarely receives resistance from local cities and usually has many people willing to help in some way or offer encouraging feedback.
“There’s usually so much positivity behind this, it makes me so happy,” she said.
The organization usually gets its supplies or money to buy supplies through donations from other groups, businesses or individuals.
In the future, Jackson said she’d like to grow and expand as much as possible as well as find a business or organization to sponsor “Walls of Love.”