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Memphis resident launches mobile 'pop up shop' for homeless

Frances McNeil founded Mobile Homeless Ministry during the pandemic. "I can just bring some food, and they will just be in tears,” she said.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There are those in Memphis that can’t get to help. Frances McNeil is a changemaker who makes sure help gets to them. 

McNeil founded the "Mobile Homeless Ministry," and is actively putting boots on the ground in an effort to end homelessness.

“I think God called me for time as this,” McNeil said.

It is a time for some where basic necessities, such as shelter, have limited options.

“I’ve partner with these shelters, and they are full, so I think we need more shelters in the Memphis area." McNeil said. "Homelessness is a problem.” 

Rather than wait for others to bring solutions, McNeil made one herself. She sets up a mobile homeless pop up shop to make sure her community has what it needs. 

Thursday, she’ll be partnering with Frayser Furniture Connection and the Frayser Community PTSA to assist those without shelter in the neighborhood.

Credit: Frances McNeil

“We'll have tables set up," she said. "We all have uniforms, just strictly uniforms at a few tables, and then we'll have just regular clothes for children. Then, I have formal wear.” 

The group also donates books for children.

“It got started in the pandemic," McNeil said. "I mean, I help the homeless all the time anyway, but I noticed that the homeless was really being left out during the pandemic to me. We would see homeless people laying on the ground, and we'd give them food and things like that we set up at corners, we'll feed them and we'll have clothes.”

The response has been just as fulfilling as the gesture. 

“They're very grateful that sometimes they're in tears," she said. "I can just bring some food, and they will just be in tears. 

McNeil said she wants the homeless in Memphis to know her by name.

"I want them to be able to reach out to me," she said. "I'm going to continue to help until no homeless person is on street.”

Again, the next Mobile Homeless "Pop Up Shop" is set for Thursday, Aug. 11 at the Frayser Furniture Connection from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

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