LSU Health New Orleans Newsroom

Remembering those Forgotten

University Police at Gift Bag give-out

Two groups of people whose interactions can sometimes be contentious came together this morning in a spirit of caring, gratitude and mutual respect. LSU Health New Orleans University Police distributed holiday gift bags to people experiencing homelessness.

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“Our dealings can be perceived as negative at times, and we wanted a more positive encounter,” says Lt. Natasha Taylor of LSU Health University Police. “As we carry out our duty to protect our students and secure our campus, we do understand their circumstances.”

Lt. Taylor organized a donation drive to buy necessities and niceties to fill the bags. University Police Officers, along with LSU Health New Orleans leadership, contributed.

holiday gift bags
holiday gift bag contents
Taylor put together 48 large bags, which contained socks, Kleenex, hand warmers, protein bars, toothbrushes and toothpaste, dental floss, towels, deodorant, Chap Stick, combs and healing hand lotion.

Thirty smaller bags included either a towel or socks, a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and one or two other items.

Fifteen bags for women also contained feminine hygiene products.

All were given out, and all were appreciated. A chorus of “thank-yous” and “God-bless-yous” could be heard as Lt. Taylor, Sgt. Devon Allen, Police Officer Christy Hawxhurst and Police Officer Michael Mims handed out the gift bags to the men and women as they filed through the breakfast line at the Rebuild Center.

The Rebuild Center, on Gravier Street across from LSU Health’s downtown New Orleans campus, is a day shelter collaborative of three non-profits working with St. Joseph Church to provide a multitude of services to people without homes.
“Lt. Taylor’s project is the culmination of effective community policing,” notes LSU Health New Orleans University Police Chief William Joseph. “Our officers try to get to know the people around our campus and let them get to know us. They know we have a job to do. Today was a chance to provide a little extra support with some useful and comforting gifts.”

Taylor collected the donations and personally shopped for the items. She and her fellow officers assembled the bags. Taylor then recruited a band of blue elves to deliver them.

Sgt. Allen with recipient
“It felt great,” Taylor says. “I just wish we could have done more.”

She’s already looking ahead to next year. “I would like to make this a yearly thing, each year bigger and better.”