December 11, 2019

Steal this idea: Build a ‘Wall of Love’ for those in need in your hometown

Cleveland nonprofit Walls of Love has come with a brilliant way to get basic necessities to the people who need them the most. Here's how you can implement one in your community.

Cleveland resident Holly Jackson created a simple way to pay it forward to your neighbors in need. Photo courtesy of Walls of Love

Even the smallest items can have a big impact: A bottle of shampoo, a pack of pencils, a pair of gloves. But sometimes these basic necessities can be hard to come by, and there can be a stigma to asking for help. That’s why Holly Jackson created Walls of Love.

“I had wished there was just a magic wall where people could get anything that they needed and there was no stigma, no judgment,” Jackson told NationSwell.

Each wall is created with the help of volunteers who put basic necessities into individual Ziploc bags and hang them all up on a fence in a safe, public area. The plastic baggies are accompanied by a sign that says, “Please take what you need. Leave the rest for others. Pay it forward when you can.” The walls can have a theme but often they contain a variety of things including school supplies, toiletries, cold weather accessories, and non perishable foods.

Since the creation of the first Wall of Love outside of a police department in Lorain, Ohio, the nonprofit has been able to help an estimated 26,000 people across the country.

Walls of Love can be organized around a theme, such as cold weather gear. Photo courtesy of Walls of Love

Next up, Jackson has a goal of constructing 500 walls across the country and hopes to eventually create more permanent walls that can be restocked throughout the year.

Does this sound like a good idea for your community? Walls can be organized anywhere there’s a fence to hang supplies from. The purchasing and bagging of supplies is a great way to get colleagues, neighbors, and friends to volunteer together. And remember, there are so many benefits to volunteering!

If you’re interested in starting a wall in your community, email to get started.

The Renewal Project

The Renewal Project, made possible by Allstate, tells the stories of individuals and organizations who are solving problems in their communities.