Winter months are coming, biting winds will blow and snow is sure to fall.
The coming season is especially challenging for those without a roof overhead and warm clothes to wear and folks working with Heading Home Anoka are determined to help.
The month of November has been declared Homelessness Awareness Month in Anoka County and Heading Home Anoka, in partnership with the county’s continuum of care, is conducting a shoe and boot collection drive.
“Shoes are the number one item requested by those experiencing homelessness and for whatever reason, when people are donating things they don’t think of shoes,” said Kristina Hayes, program coordinator for community development in Anoka County.
“We’re really hoping this will generate some activity and awareness.”
And so, throughout the month of November, Heading Home Anoka is collecting new and gently-used shoes and winter boots of all sizes for all ages, “Creating a path to end homelessness.”
Each school in Anoka County, as well as churches and businesses in the area have been invited to help get word out about the collection and to serve as drop-off sites for shoe and boot donations.
The goal is to collect at least 1,463 pairs of shoes and boots – one pair for each of the 1,463 people identified as homeless in Anoka County.
Of those homeless people, 501 are children and 689 are single adults – that number is a 27 percent increase over last year, Hayes said.
“That’s quite a significant increase,” she said.
Drop off locations already established for the shoe and boot collection include the Anoka County Government Center, first floor lobby; the Anoka County Human Services Center in Blaine; District 11 schools; and all Anoka County libraries.
A giant red barrel will be placed at each of those locations – barrels that were previously used for the Salvation Army coat drive.
“The Salvation Army has been great in helping us get organized and get word out,” Hayes said. “They even offered to store everything.”
Once the shoe and boot collection ends Nov. 30, county agencies will refer those in need to the Salvation Army which will distribute the footwear to those in need.
“Snow and ice are coming and I can’t imagine going through winter without boots or without a good pair of shoes. Hopefully, this collection will help a lot of people get through,” said Hayes.
For more information on how to help with the shoe and boot collection, or to see other services offered to help the homeless, visit www.AnokaCounty.us/homeless or call Hayes at 763-323-5707.
Sue Austreng is at [email protected]