Helping hands help the homeless - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Helping hands help the homeless


by Colby Robertson

WISCONSIN RAPIDS (WAOW) -- Homelessness in south Wood County continues to impact hundreds of families. Right now, the Wisconsin Rapids community has no shelter for forced out of their homes, but some helping hands are working to change that.

The start of school is just around the corner and for most kids that means shopping for school supplies and new clothes.

But, with an ever growing homeless population in Wisconsin Rapids, these Helping Hands volunteers are spending the day sorting clothes for the caring closet, a small room off of East Junior High that students in the district can access.

Lauren Van Natta and Skylar Joling say, "Winter is just around the corner and people who are homeless and don't have any money to buy clothes they're going to get sick or something. They need people to care for them. There's a lot of homeless people and they need our help and it's very important."

Helping Hands Gospel Mission has worked diligently over the past year to help combat homelessness in South Wood County. Vice President Jennifer Joling says, "Our issue here in Wisconsin Rapids is we have nothing for men. There are places for women and children to go. We can even help women and children with hotel rooms, things like that, but for the men it is absolutely necessary."

Still, It's a problem affecting everyone year round. Men, women and children of all ages. From elementary to high school, hundreds of students turn to the caring closet for school supplies, jackets, clothes and shoes.

Jennifer Joling says, "We're no different from anyone else except that we're a small community and our homeless people are our friends, our neighbors, people we went to school with. They're not strangers."

Helping hands is still looking for a location for the new shelter. The group is kicking off their capital campaign with a fundraising event Saturday, August 28th. It will be held at the Grand Rapids Lions Club on Highway W from 4-10 p.m. Admission is free and will feature several Christian bands, kids games and prizes. They hope the capital campaign will help them raise $300,000 to fund a new shelter.

Online Reporter: Colby Robertson

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