Letter to the Editor: Community support goes a long way

Published 6:17 pm Friday, November 4, 2022

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The COVID-19 pandemic has made life more difficult for many of us, including youth who don’t have a safe place to stay.

An estimated 13,300 Minnesota youth on their own experience homelessness over the course of a year, according to Wilder Research. That includes an estimated 5,800 minors ages 17 and younger on their own, and 7,500 young adults ages 18 to 24.

Most youth experiencing homelessness in our area are sleeping on the couches of friends. However, youth are currently struggling to even find a couch to sleep on as people are nervous about others coming into their homes during the pandemic. Availability of affordable housing has also made it more difficult for youth to find a place to live. When there are few options, youth often turn to their cars, tents or camping for shelter. 

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During National Runaway and Homeless Youth Awareness Month in November, we want to thank the community for working with us to support these youth. Over the past year, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota in Rochester provided transitional housing, crisis shelter, street outreach and support for more than 185 youth experiencing homelessness during a critical time in their lives.

The community has played a significant role helping youth meet basic needs by providing clothing, household supplies, protective face masks and hand sanitizer, toiletries, food and other gift cards. If you can help, here are current needs:

New socks, underwear, blankets, scarves, winter hats and earmuffs, gloves and hygiene products

New clothing such as sweatpants, t-shirts, leggings and sweatshirts

Towels and wash cloths

Food/grocery/gas gift card donations and financial contributions

Meal baskets or treats for youth over the holidays, and

Shelf-stable food, such as canned goods, cereal, rice and pasta

Please also share this information with others who want to make a difference. Community support goes a long way in providing stability and care for youth who are working toward independence and self-sufficiency. Neighbors reaching out to assist means the world to these youth. To drop-off supplies or donate please call 507.316.8273 or email erica.kline@lssmn.org.

Lastly, if you or someone you know is experiencing homelessness and is 24 years old or younger, please call 888.828.4383 or visit our website to find support.