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How to help the homeless in Utah his holiday season


SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s most vulnerable are out on the streets, often needing help finding all three of their meals for the day.

In this season of giving, many families volunteer their time to help the homeless and the COVID-19 pandemic is not going to put an end to that.

Between Sixth and 400 West, homeless camps line the streets, and with lowering temperatures comes the greater need to help them get through to their next meal.

READ: Growing homeless camp causes concerns in Rio Grande area

Savannah Young with Volunteers of America Utah said they have three resource centers where three meals are given to nearly 300 people each day.

  • 200 women are served at the Geraldine E. King Women’s Resource Center.
  • 40 to 60 youth are served at their Youth Resource Center and a group of 20 women and children are served daily at the Center for Women and Children.

“It’s made it a bit more difficult to have volunteers in our facilities to help serve meals and sort donations,” said Young.

Each person who enters their facilities has their temperature checked — and all are required to wear masks and social distance while serving food.

READ: SLC homeless community prepares for winter

Even though Young said the number of volunteers has dropped due to the pandemic, they’ve also seen the number of first-time volunteers go up.

“It’s been amazing to see the community step up in other ways,” said Young.

Volunteers have cooked meals at home and dropped them off at the centers for the unsheltered.

“They are not necessarily volunteering their time,” said Young. “But they’re giving us hot meals.”

Young said they also have already filled up all volunteer slots for Candy Cane Corner.

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The holiday pop-up shop is a yearly tradition where families can use the voucher system to purchase gifts and winter supplies for their families.

This year, volunteers will shop for families in order to follow social distancing guidelines.

Whatever the gift and however the unsheltered are helped, Young hopes Utahn’s will turn to their most vulnerable community members and lend a helping hand.

CLICK HERE for a list of where donations are needed and volunteer opportunities, or visit Catholic Community Services or the International Rescue Committee.


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