The Free Press, Mankato, MN

No Direction Home

December 22, 2013

No Direction Home, Day 3: Points of light exist in homelessness issue

(Continued)

CADA House is available to victims of domestic violence. The Reach is there for homeless youth. The Backpack Food Program is helping get food to kids who live in homes of modest means. And there are others, including many nonprofits whose mission may not be to help the poor but who make their services available to anyone who can't afford it, such as the YMCA.

Beyond the official organizations, the community at large has been generous. Each year multiple organizations sponsor toy drives that help thousands of individuals have a better Christmas. Thousands more drop coins and dollar bills into Salvation Army red kettles, kettles that are staffed by volunteers who want to help their neighbors by ringing a bell in a cold grocery store entryway. The United Way raises $2 million annually, much of which stays local and helps many of the organizations mentioned here.

So yes, there are points of light.

"I had cancer last year," Wilson said. "One of the homeless men lit a candle every week in a different church until I came back. That gave me a whole new perspective ... We have to help them."

If you need help or are interested in helping, here is a partial list of organizations that help the poor: • Partners for Affordable Housing, 387-2115, partnersforhousing.org • Salvation Army, Mankato, 345-7840, salvationarmynorth.org/community/mankato • The Reach, homeless youth drop-in center, 381-6670 • Blue Earth County Social Services, 304-4222, blueearthcounty.mn.gov • Nicollet County Social Services, 934-8559, co.nicollet.mn.us • ECHO Food Shelf, 345-7508, echofoodshelf.org • Second Harvest Heartland, 651-484-5117, www.2harvest.org • CADA House, 625-3966, www.inspire-hope.org • The Backpack Food Program, 381-4348, feedingourcommunitiespartners.org

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