Community Connections – Humanity at its Best


Last week, Samaritan House’s Annual Giving Manager, Jessica Mitchell, put a call-out to her friends and family on Facebook to try and secure 100 $25 gift cards – one for each resident at Safe Harbor Shelter, Samaritan House’s Homeless shelter.

She wrote:

“I’m collecting 100 $25 Target gift cards to give to the residents at Safe Harbor Shelter for Christmas, because I think everyone deserves a present during the holidays. Jess [her husband] and I are personally contributing eight gift cards, which means I need 92 more to make every resident’s holiday a little brighter.

When I came to Samaritan House it was because, ever since I was a little girl, homelessness has bothered me more than any other social issue. I remember my mother taking me into downtown Pittsburgh to see The Nutcracker when I was 5 years old and crying when I saw a homeless man for the first time. I couldn’t understand then how we, as a society, could let someone fall through the cracks like that, and I still don’t. Of all of Samaritan House’s programs, the closest to my heart is Safe Harbor Shelter- it provides more than 32,000 nights of safe, warm sleep every year to people who have nowhere else to go.

Please help me reach my goal of 100 $25 Target gift cards by December 10th. Thank you so much.”

Jessica thought she might have to do several call-outs like this to reach her goal in time for the holidays. However, she reached it in 19 hours. Within minutes of her posting, she had pledges from friends and family from all over the country, even people she hadn’t seen in years. By 8:00 PM that night, she had commitments for half the gift cards. Then, the next morning, she received a text message from an anonymous donor, saying they wanted to contribute the rest.

“I’m so blown away,” Jessica says of the response to her call-out. “This is humanity at its best.”start_a_donation_drive_0

Samaritan House is so very grateful to everyone who hosts a drive during the holidays. The items donated make a huge difference in the lives of our clients who struggle to afford the basics in life. To run a drive of your own or learn about other ways you can help our neighbors in need have a joyful holiday season, please click here:

Community Connections is comprised of narratives from the people who know Samaritan House the best- our staff, clients, and volunteers! To submit a story, please email it to