Children In Need
“No man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
Program Start (Dec 2009) To Date:
Homelessness among Children
More than 1.6 million American children—including 1,000 in the Poudre School District alone—experience homelessness each year. In Larimer County, over 60 percent of the homeless population is comprised of families with children. Those children are more likely (relative to their non-homeless peers) to fall behind in school, fail to meet their basic needs and suffer from physical and/or behavioral health problems.
Families, children and youth experience homelessness in a variety of ways. Who is considered homeless?
- Students lacking a fixed, regular and adequate residence
- Families staying in shelters
- Families or individuals living in a campground, park or vehicle because they have no permanent housing
- Families doubled up with friends or other families due to economic reasons
- Runaway or abandoned youth living on the streets or in abandoned buildings, without adult supervision and/or temporarily staying with friends
- School-aged mothers or pregnant girls staying with friends or in a home for teenage mothers
Homeless Gear’s Children in Need program has two missions:
1. Provide homeless and near-homeless children with the items that they need–outerwear, clothing, hygiene supplies and more–to meet basic health and hygiene needs, protect themselves from the elements and actively participate in school.
2. Inspire a new generation of philanthropic leaders by encouraging volunteerism and raising awareness among local youth.
Children in Need Service Events
Once per quarter, we host supply distribution and service events for children and families at the Matthews House Community Life Center (220 N. Grant Avenue in Fort Collins). These events are a collaboration between Homeless Gear and the Matthews House. We distribute gear, outerwear, hygiene items and other supplies, and numerous partner organizations join us to provide attendees with a wide range of additional services: eye exams, health screenings, children’s books, art supplies, haircuts, resource information and pet food, among others. Attendees are referred to the events through the McKinney-Vento program in the local school district and/or through agencies that serve homeless children and families in Larimer County.
Events run from 9 AM to 11:30 AM. Upcoming dates:
- February 20, 2016
- May 14, 2016
Volunteers are the driving force behind our Children in Need events. As many as 150 volunteers participate in each event, serving as “personal shoppers” for attending families, distributing supplies and managing event logistics, among other tasks. We ask volunteers to sign up for “shifts” (8:30 AM to 12:00 PM and 11:45 AM to 12:45 PM). The first shift participates in the event and the second shift cleans up after the event. Bilingual volunteers needed!
Please know that you can still just drop in if you didn’t get a chance to sign up. We will never turn away volunteers. To sign up for a shift, contact Chelsey Mandell by phone at 970-587-3556 or by email at Chelsey@HomelessGear.org.
Loveland Food Drives
Once per month, volunteers stand in front of the Loveland Sam’s Club (1200 E. Eisenhower Blvd.) and collect food/drink items from customers. Everything that we collect is distributed to children and families in the Thompson School District via (a) the McKinney-Vento program for homeless children and (b) the Loveland Rotary Kids Pak (a hunger relief program that sends food bags home each weekend to families-in-need in the Thompson School District).
Events run from 10:30 AM to 4:30 PM. There are two volunteer shifts: 10:30 AM to 1:30 PM and 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM. Stay tuned for 2016 dates!
To sign up for a shift, contact Chelsey Mandell by phone at 970-587-3556 or by email at Chelsey@HomelessGear.org.
Statewide Product Distribution
Beyond the product that we distribute at our quarterly service events, we also send supplies–clothing, outerwear, hygiene supplies and more–to organizations that serve homeless and near-homeless families across the state. Those organizations distribute the items that we send to the people whom they serve. In 2013 and 2014, we sent children’s supplies to (among others) the following organizations:
- The Action Center: http://theactioncenterco.org/
- Attention Homes: http://www.attentionhomes.org/
- Centennial Board of Cooperative Educational Services: http://www.cboces.org/pages/CBOCES
- Clothes to Kids of Denver: http://clothestokidsdenver.org/
- The Gathering Place: http://www.tgpdenver.org/
- The Jacob Center: http://www.jacobcenter.org/
- Kid’s Closet: http://www.fcfumc.net/service-outreach/kid-s-closet
- La Familia/The Family Center: http://thefamilycenterfc.org/
- Loveland Rotary Kid’s Pak: http://www.lovelandrotarykidspak.com/
- The Matthews House: http://thematthewshouse.org/
- Poudre School District: https://www.psdschools.org/student-support/federal-programs/homeless-students
- PSD McKinney Backpack Program: https://www.facebook.com/PsdMcKinneyBackpack
- Remington House: http://www.jacobcenter.org/remington-house/
- Sheridan School District
- Thompson School District
- Urban Peak: http://www.urbanpeak.org/
- Volunteers of America Family Motel: http://www.voacolorado.org/
One Village One Family
The One Village One Family (OVOF) program brings together multiple community stakeholders–churches, civic groups, nonprofits and business and government leaders–to empower homeless families to regain stability, secure housing and achieve self-sufficiency. Please visit the OVOF page to find out more: http://homelessgear.org/ovof/
Promoting Philanthropy and Raising Awareness
Each year, more than a thousand volunteers contribute thousands of hours to Homeless Gear and the people we serve. Many of those volunteers are children and youth. Children organize and host donation drives, help out at distribution/service events, volunteer at our warehouse, assemble meals and participate in a wide range of other activities.
“Service Days” for Children and Youth
Periodically, we host day-long service/awareness-building events for schools, classes, youth groups and other organizations. We organize a volunteer activity, invite some of our homeless clients to interact with the group, provide a tour of our facility and host a “homelessness simulation” that allows participants to simulate (however briefly) the life of someone experiencing homeless. Here is what one student had to say about the experience:
It was really cool to experience how hard it was to be homeless during our simulation. We don’t realize how hard it is to survive without housing, jobs, or even things we take for granted like transportation. The simulation really opened my eyes and made me realize why being homeless is such a big problem in our community.
Coins for Change
Coins for Change is a month-long fundraiser/awareness-building event, held at schools throughout Larimer County. It is an opportunity—for students, their parents and our community—to become a part of the solution. It is a chance to build awareness about the issue of homelessness, participate in activities that serve the homeless population and raise funds for programs that work to address the problem.
Five schools participated in the first year (2014/2015) of Coins for Change. Those schools participated in volunteer activities, created awareness-building videos, hosted assemblies and, collectively, raised about $9,000 in loose change.
To learn more about the Coins for Change campaign, please click here.
Making A Difference
With your help we are making a difference. Your donations and support have made stories like the following possible. See below for a complete list of items we collect and distribute to children and families in need.
The clothes are always clean & the volunteers are really helpful, but the shoes are the best!
Christina, Children in Need event attendee, 2014
So dad was able to get 2 pairs of glasses… He was so happy it brought a tear to my eye. And with the weather having shoes without holes is a big deal.
Jessica, Children in Need event attendee, 2014
“Thumbs Up to Homeless Gear for helping supply outdoor gear, shoes, bags, and bedding to the McKinney Program students at Putnam Elementary School of Science, Irish Elementary and Laurel Elementary School of Arts and Technology. Thank you, Ken John, for collecting and setting aside items especially for our young students. Many of these items will help our students have a save and memorable time at Eco-Week.”
Deb Gillan, Putnam Elementary School of Science; Heidi Hood, Laurel Elementary School of Arts and Technology; and Natasha Dueno, Irish Elementary
“I work with a family who is currently staying at one of the Fort Collins Homeless Shelters. The Mom said all of the children in the family were in need of coats and jackets, so I checked to see what size and color they might prefer. Each child had their favorites. I told them I would see what I could come up with. Thanks to Homeless Gear, I was able to provide all of the children with jackets/coats (in the sizes and colors requested). Upon receiving a coat, one of the children came bounding down the hall with a bold smile and gave me a big hug and “thanks”.
These special moments make my work and your work so very worthwhile. Just thought that might encourage you and your team to keep doing your thing!”
Laurel Elementary School of Arts & Technology
Items We Collect and Distribute:
Homeless Gear’s Children in Need program collects and distributes critical and basic-needs items to homeless and near-homeless children and families. We do not, at this time, accept children’s toys and other, similar children’s products. However, please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like some suggestions on places that might accept those items. Items can be delivered to our warehouse (1305 Duff Drive, Unit 5 in Fort Collins), M-TH from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Thank you for your kindness, compassion, and generosity!
Just For Baby:
- Shampoo & Conditioner
- Feminine Hygiene Products
- Dental Products
Clothing (School Aged Children):
- Coats (winter)
- Snow Pants or Ski Bibs
- Jackets (spring or summer)
- Rain Jackets, Rain Pants & Rain Ponchos
- Sweatshirts with Hoods (Hoodies)
- Hats, Scarves, Gloves
- Boots (snow and hiking)
- Tennis Shoes
- Socks (New only please on summer socks and “reasonably used” is OK on winter socks)
- Underwear (New)
- Children’s Sleeping Bags
- Bath Towels & Washcloths
- Insect Repellant & Sunscreen
- First Aid Kits and Supplies