Daily Point of Light # 2643 Mar 23, 2004

For the past two years, every Thursday SHIPMATES (Staff/Students Helping Interesting People in the Meridian Area Through Enthusiastic Service) team up with Toomsuba HeadStart to help the children grow up in a better atmosphere. SHIPMATES has volunteered more than 790 hours of community service throughout the year mowing lawns, painting, stripping and waxing floors, and generally cleaning up the site, helping the Toomsuba staff focus more quality time with the children. In addition, SHIPMATES assisted children with the presentation of programs spotlighting youth talent. By turning work to play, SHIPMATES has made a lasting impression on the young children who benefit from our community service.

Since 1992, SHIPMATES has teamed up with Habitat for Humanity. Throughout the year, SHIPMATES devoted 673 hours to helping build safe and comfortable housing for those who might otherwise not have a home to call their own. Building affordable housing improves the overall community, making safer neighborhoods and reducing poverty levels within the community.

Since the program started in 1981, SHIPMATES volunteers have participated in Area 5 Special Olympics. Volunteers were needed for the sporting events to assist participants. SHIPMATES have provided volunteers ever since, helping to inspire special students to achieve their goals. Special Olympics sporting events include golf, softball, soccer, equestrian, basketball, and track and field.

The Merrehope house, the SHIPMATES program’s first project in 1981, is a restoration project that SHIPMATES helps to preserve. Once a month they work to keep the yard and the house up to standards. Merrehope is a historic landmark in the community, and it is used for various events including weddings and other gatherings that would not be possible if not for the SHIPMATES program.

The SHIPMATES program has helped to keep the community clean over the past 10 years. Every three weeks, SHIPMATES pick up litter in a designated two-mile area through the Adopt-A-Highway Program. Volunteers also participate in Meridian’s Annual Public Lands Day, devoted to picking up litter around public lakes. Litter prevention and environmental awareness benefit all residents of the community, The children who participate in picking up litter experience the valuable rewards and personal satisfaction of preserving our earth.

Twice a month, SHIPMATES partner with Love’s Kitchen Incorporated, cooking and distributing meals to the homeless. A structured environment is provided for the homeless during their time of need, a place where they can come to eat breakfast and lunch without fear or embarrassment, helping to reduce crime, such as theft, which tends to stem from the frustration of poverty.