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National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week: How area charities help those in need

This week is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. Many area charities help those in need, especially in the winter months.

“There is a direct correlation between the winters here and the need for help,” Caitlin Croft, Family Service Outreach Coordinator for the Upper Valley Food Pantry, said.

So far this year, the food pantry has served almost 3,000 people. That number is expected to rise in the winter months and holidays coming.

“As the demand goes up for assistance, we need more help,” Croft said. “We rely completely on the community for our donated goods, so we’re always in need.”

The Upper Valley Food Pantry in Rexburg gives out food twice a month.

“It’s not just food,” Croft said. “It’s even laundry detergent, blankets, coats. Anything along those lines. People are just really in need with all areas of their life right now.”

Anne Johnson, manager at The Haven Shelter, agrees.

“There’s people that are staying in their cars,” said Johnson. “There’s people that are staying tripled and quadrupled up with other people in unsafe situations. There’s people that are in buildings that have no power.”

The Haven Shelter in Idaho Falls provides a home to mothers and children.

“We have had kids ask up before if Santa’s going to be able to find them because they don’t have a home,” said Johnson.

The shelter has a Christmas Family Adoption program where people in the community can volunteer to help families at the shelter. They also always need extra supplies.

“We’re looking for warm clothing,” Johnson said. “And we are always looking for household items because it’s a constant flow of families that move in here and move out. And we will pass on things from the community to them when they move into their own place.”

Both organizations aim to give some comfort to those who need it most this winter.

“The reality is, if we weren’t here, they would not eat,” Croft said. “We help them supplement when they can’t provide for themselves. Whether it be circumstances, weather, winter, they’d go hungry. That’s just the bottom line.”

The food pantry in Rexburg is always taking non-perishable food donations as well as other non-food items. Meanwhile, the Haven in Idaho Falls needs coats with good zippers, hats and gloves for the kids.

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