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Social work class hosts food drive for homeless

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Box ready for donation in the Psychology Building,  room 232. Today photo by Today photographer Tyler Shomaker.

Students in social work classes at Colorado State University-Pueblo are currently collecting food to benefit the homeless in Pueblo through March 27.

They are asking for donations in the form of both food and hygiene items. Protein bars, cans of tuna, beans, chicken and similar items are what the students specifically want to collect.

The food drive is the result of a required class project and the news of local non-profits needing more help to provide for the homeless.

Jennifer Crippen, a member of the group, said that the students had seen on the news that the Salvation Army was facing a shortfall in donations this year and so the students decided a food drive was the perfect way to fulfill their community project.

“(The Salvation Army) had to open their doors so early this year, so they needed help,” Crippen said.

She added that cold nights in Pueblo often last into the month of March and April and the homeless are still seeking shelter, which has increased the need for both food and hygiene products.

“We realized there are so many families that are homeless that really depend on the Salvation Army,” Crippen said.

Statistics gathered by the group show that 63 percent of the homeless population in Pueblo are families and nearly 1,848 children face homelessness at some point during the school year.

By organizing the food drive Crippen said she has learned so much more about the community and how much help is needed for families in the area.

Tom Hampler, secretary of the advisory board at the Salvation Army in Pueblo, said that from Thanksgiving on the community is really receptive, but they do find resources low in the spring and summer months.

The only fundraiser the Salvation Army does throughout the year is the red kettle drive, a holiday fundraiser where volunteers collect money at storefronts around town. This year the organization said the fundraiser did not raise as much money as they were anticipating.

During the winter the Salvation Army opens a warming shelter for men when nightly temperatures drop below 32 degrees. Because weather has become warmer, the service is no longer available but said individuals, as well as families, are still looking for resources.

“Our objective is to have something going on throughout the year. We’re trying to find ways to (provide more supplies to the homeless),” Hampler said.

He also notes that the economy has been a factor in the amount of resources the shelter has for the past two years.

“Our food resource has been under pressure this year because of the economy,” Hampler said.

He correlates the weak economy with the number of families in need in recent years.

“We’ve seen more families needing food and shelter, and we’re having trouble meeting those needs,” Hampler said.

The group of students are working in conjunction with the Colorado Progressive Coalition, a non-profit, that “fights, builds and wins progressive changes benefiting Colorado voices that refuse to be marginalized,” according to their website.

Items can be dropped off at the location on 304 S. Union or in the Psychology Building in room 232.