The winter shoes and boots drive for the homeless of Anoka County wraps up at the end of this month and although donations are coming in, children’s footwear is still needed.
Heading Home Anoka is coordinating with Anoka County in partnership with Anoka County’s Continuum of Care with a goal of collecting 1,463 pairs of shoes and/or boots, one pair for each of the homeless counted in last January’s annual single-night homeless count.
The theme of the drive is “Creating a Path to End Homelessness.”
“There are a lot of homeless people in our community who need help,” said Jill Smith, Anoka County Library’s adult services manager.
“It’s an opportunity for (library) patrons to help out.”
Donations for new and gently used footwear are being accepted at county libraries, Anoka County Government Center, Anoka County Human Services in Blaine and some District 11 schools. Look for the Salvation Army’s red signature barrel at donation drop-off sites.
A wide variety of footwear has been donated so far, but mostly for adults. \
Shoes for children are still needed, according to an Anoka County Government Center staff person.
Donated shoes and boots will be distributed to families at the Salvation Army’s Loaves and Fishes free meal program, hosted on Mondays and Fridays.
The meals start at 5:30 p.m. at 10347 Ibis St. N.W. in Coon Rapids.
The Salvation Army on referral from Anoka County agencies will further distribute shoes and boots.
This is the first time the Salvation Army has collaborated a shoe drive with Heading Home Anoka.
“I’m surprised at such huge donations from the libraries,” said Sue Rosendahl, social worker at the Salvation Army.
“We’ve been emptying barrels every few days.”
Of the more than 1,400 people counted as homeless in January, 501 were children in families and 689 were single adults.
“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,” Kristina Hayes, program coordinator for community development in Anoka County said in an interview earlier this month.
This is the first time that the Anoka County libraries have been involved in such a shoe drive, according to Smith.
However, the libraries have been bringing focus to homelessness annually since 2009 by setting up information displays.
Last year, Anoka County libraries exhibited artwork created by the homeless.
The shoe/boot drive started Nov. 1 and ends the last day of the month.
More donations of footwear in all sizes are being sought.
The collection is taking place this month, in conjunction with Anoka County’s declaration of November as Homelessness Awareness Month.
Rosendahl said she believes the shoe drive is close to meeting its goal.
“I think if you give people a specific need, they rise to the occasion,” she said.
For more information on how you can help, visit www.AnokaCounty.us/homeless.
Elyse Kaner is at firstname.lastname@example.org