Today is a big day in Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week as various charities and agencies that help the homeless have set up collection points at the three Spokane ShopKo stores to accept donations of basic toiletries, clothing and even foodstuffs.
The collections began at 7 this morning and run until 7 pm. Items needed include new and used winter clothing such as coats, gloves, scarves, boots, socks and plastic ponchos. The organizers also hope for donations of shampoos, conditioners, soaps, razors, toilet paper, laundry soap and even dog food.
The ShoipKo locations are: South Hill, 4515 S. Regal; North Side, 9520 Newport Highway, and Spokane Valley, 13414 E. Sprague Ave.
All winter wear will be handed over to Spokane Mental Health's Homeless Outreach Team to help with their annual winter clothing drive (Friday from 10-4, First Covenant Church at Second and Browne, downtown Spokane). Other items will be distributed to agencies that help homeless and transient clients.
See Thursday's Inlander for more on the apparent surge in homelessness in the area. Staffers and volunteers at shelters and drop-in centers in Spokane and Coeur d'Alene report serving more people and also seeing new faces.
"It's a whole new world out there. We are seeing a whole new population of people who were once doing OK and are now thrown into crisis," says Ann Marie Byrd of Spokane's Catholic Charities.