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

Over 60% of our homeless are families.  There was a cumulative total of 1,021 students identified as being homeless in the Poudre School District during the school year 2010-2011.  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 building, without adult supervision or temporarily staying with friends
  • School-aged mothers or pregnant girls staying with friends or in a home for teenage mothers

The McKinney-Vento Program ensures homeless students have the support they need to stay in school.  Homeless Gear works with the McKinney Liaisons from each school to identify the needs of these students and to furnish them with items that we collect (see gear needs page).


The focus of our Children in Need program is to provide homeless and near homeless children basic clothing, hygiene items, and other essentials.  Our goal is to provide these children with basic necessities to ensure that they are protected from the elements, able to meet basic health and hygiene needs, allow them to actively participate in school and simply to help bolster their self esteem and provide as much normalcy in their lives as possible.

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 services and support: 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 are:

  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, please contact Chelsey Mandell by phone at 970-587-3556 or by email at

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

Facilities/Agencies Supported

Our Children in Need program proudly supports these great organizations by furnishing them items that we collect so that they can distribute those items to the homeless and near homeless that they serve.

Fort Collins:
Adoption Dreams
Catholic Charities Mission
McKinney Program PSD
Laurel Elementary School
Olander Elementary School
Irish Elementary School
Putnam Elementary School
Eyestone Elementary School
Tavelli Elementary School
Harris Elementary School
Dunn Elementary School
O’Dea Elementary School
Moore Elementary School
Matthews House
Outreach Mentors PSD
Mary’s Closet
Murphy Center for Hope
Tara Chastain FC Housing
Realities For Children
Center For Family Outreach
Salvation Army

Greeley Evans School District #6

Front Porch
HELP International
House of Neighborly Service

The Gathering Place
Urban Peak
Clothes To Kids of Denver, Inc.
Brandon Center

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