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SALT LAKE CITY — Many people want to help those in need but don’t know where to begin, according to notable Utah philanthropist Pamela Atkinson.
But giving can be simple, she said, if throughout a single day one makes a note of what they wear and what products they use from morning to night.
“Our homeless friends are no different from you and me. No different at all. They wear clothes, they wear underwear just like we do. So whether you’re a male or a female, think about what clothes you put on, and then think about how you can help our homeless friends get those same clothes,” Atkinson said.
“Think about the toiletries you use. Think about everything you do during the day. Take one day to do this, and then say, ‘Well, if I need all of this, do not the people in our homeless resource center need these too?’ And you bet they do.”
Atkinson met Friday with leaders from Salt Lake City resource centers and charitable organizations to ask for donations from the community ahead of the approaching cold months.
Catholic Community Services of Utah, Volunteers of America-Utah, The Road Home and End Utah Homelessness each need warm clothing, winter coats, underwear, socks, boots, hygiene items and pajamas to give to their clients. They also need items including bedding — sleeping bags and twin size sheets — as well as nonperishable food items, snacks and water bottles.
Our homeless friends are no different from you and me. No different at all. ... Think about what clothes you put on, and then think about how you can help our homeless friends get those same clothes.
–Pamela Atkinson, Utah philanthropist and advocate for the homeless
“As winter is fast, quickly approaching, the needs for our guests that are staying at these centers are increasing,” Matthew Melville, director of homeless services for Catholic Community Services, said. “We need to make sure that they stay warm, that they have all of the vital things to get them through the day comfortably.”
During winter, items like underwear, socks, and gloves “tend to go really fast.”
“Especially as that first snow and rain starts hitting. People with holes in their shoes, the water’s going to get in, and they’re going to need new socks,” he said.
Women’s hygiene products, hats, beanies and hand warmers are also essential.
“There is always a need to do these things in the community, and Salt Lake has always met the need and come to help out the service providers when there’s been an ask,” Melville said.
Kathy Bray, president and CEO for Volunteers of America-Utah which runs the new Geraldine E. King Women’s Resource Center, said the shelter overnight Friday housed its capacity of 200 women.
“One of the best things we can do is to give them some socks, some new underwear, a new bra, some hygiene products for free, so that when they are gathering their resources, they can save their money for housing, for housing deposits, for first month’s rent. So we really need the community to step forward and bring these items,” Bray explained.
She urged groups to consider holding corporate drives, and church groups to consider gathering donations during service projects.
Matt Minkevitch, Road Home executive director, urged people to donate through the most convenient method for them.
Atkinson said she personally tends to run out of gloves during winter to pass around to those experiencing homelessness, because they’re so needed during the cold season.
“When you know you’ve given what is actually needed, it’s just an incredible feeling, and it makes you want to give even more. So I appeal to the generosity of all Utahns to start reaching out even more than you already do,” she said.
Donations can be taken to each homeless service provider. More information about what’s needed and where to deliver donations can be found on each organization’s respective website: ccsutah.org, theroadhome.org, and endutahhomelessness.org.