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Unsung Hero Lerryn Campbell helps Akron’s homeless through COVID-19 pandemic

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Lerryn Campbell, a volunteer at The Homeless Charity and Village, gives a Christmas gift to a homeless person Dec. 19 outside Middlebury Chapel in Akron.

Lerryn Campbell says she knows no strangers, a mentality that originated with her parents.

That approach combined with her activism has changed the lives of many in Akron.

Campbell grew up in Geneva, Ohio, but came to the University of Akron to study sociology in 1992. She soon began volunteering at St. Bernard’s soup kitchen, where she had her first experience with those who are chronically homeless.

“I spent a lot of time outside of serving soup at St. Bernard just hearing people’s stories and being an ear for where they were at,” Campbell says. “I grew up where you look people in the eye, you communicate and you find a connection.”

Campbell, who is now a piano teacher and mother of three, has been making connections at The Homeless Charity and Village in Akron for the last five years, spending about 30 hours a week at the organization helping the city’s homeless population.

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Then the coronavirus pandemic hit. During the first few weeks of Ohio’s mandatory shutdown, her volunteering grew to 60 to 80 hours a week.

“The kids and I were just going from camp to camp at that point in time,” she says. “It’s the most desperate I have felt at any point in time since I was 18 years old helping homeless people until today.”

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