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MAKING A MARK: Portsmouth woman runs community giveaway program for people in need

Shirley Janney has opened her doors to the community for nearly five years through the Blessed Hands program.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Two bags of shoes and clothing -- the humble start of a nonprofit helping people and families across Hampton Roads.

Shirley Janney created the Blessed Hands community program in 2016. She collected donated essential items (like food, clothing and baby supplies) and gave them away out of the garage of her home in Portsmouth.

"I'm not here to find my riches. I'm here to help others find theirs," said Janney. "It's sad the things that we have to do without that people will take for granted- like toilet paper, paper towels and dish liquid. I saw how much the community needed that."

Last year, she needed more space and moved to a storefront on Airline Boulevard -- helping more people than ever, no questions asked. 

"I don't care what your income is. I don't need to know where you come from," Janney said. "If you're here visiting and you need something, please come shopping."

"These are not things that are luxuries that we give away," Janney said. "These are necessities, and these families cannot live without these things."

Janney said the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the need for help and for donations, and no act of kindness is too small for someone in need.

"There's a lot of evil in the world, but that's nothing new," Janney said. "There has to be enough good people in the world to outweigh the evil. That's how we overcome things." 

Blessed Hands is located at 2830 Airline Blvd., Suite D in Portsmouth. It is open Mondays and Wednesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

For more information or to find out how to donate to the program, join the Blessed Hands group on Facebook.

Author's Note: The video below is on file from Sept. 16, 2021.