Children In Need

“No man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child.” ~  Abraham Lincoln


Program Start (Dec 2009) To Date:
681 Unduplicated Families & 2,200 Children Served

Homeless 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?

Not who you pictured as being homeless?

Not who you pictured as being 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 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).  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:

  1. December 13, 2014
  2. February 21, 2015
  3. May 9, 2015

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 1:00 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

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. Upcoming dates:

  1. November 15, 2014
  2. December 6, 2014

To sign up for a shift, contact Chelsey Mandell by phone at 970-587-3556 or by email at

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:

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. It has its own page here:

Making A Difference

With your help we are making a difference

With your help we are 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!”

Heidi Hood
McKinney Liaison
Laurel Elementary School of Arts & Technology

Items We Collect and Distribute:

We are very appreciative that you might have general clothing items, toys, and other children’s products that you might want to donate to CIN.  Unfortunately we are not able to accept these items. We are trying to focus our program on the critical & basic items of need that seem to be in short supply for the homeless and near homeless children and families that we serve.  Items may be dropped off at our warehouse (1305 Duff Drive, Unit 5 in Fort Collins), M-TH from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM.  Thanks for your kindness, compassion, and generosity!

Just For Baby:

  • Diapers & Pull-ups
  • Baby Wipes

Personal Hygiene:

  • Soap
  • Shampoo & Conditioner
  • Deodorant
  • 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)

Misc Items:

  • Children’s Sleeping Bags
  • Blankets
  • Bath Towels & Washcloths
  • Insect Repellant & Sunscreen
  • First Aid Kits and Supplies

Kids Helping Kids!

Skylar H. is a 4th grader at one of our local Elementary Schools.  She donated a box of hygiene items to HG that we assumed she had collected from her neighborhood or something like that.  Turns out she asked for these items for her birthday so she could help people in need.  How incredible is that?

Luke, a second grader, wanted to help Children In Need so he walked his neighborhood and collected items like coats, gloves, boots, hoodies, sweaters, hats and other cold weather gear!! We want to thank Luke for his energy and compassion to help others!

Thank You Cards

Recently we helped Dunn Elementary prepare some of their kids in need for Eco Week with some rain jackets.  The thank you notes below are from those kids. (click for larger image)

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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