MISSOULA – With shelter space at a premium this winter, the pressure is on to try and accommodate and assist as many of the homeless as possible in Western Montana.
The good news is, donations are also up with one direct-aid drive continuing the help this winter into a relief effort that’s starting to extend all year long.
With hundreds of the homeless trying to survive on the streets of Missoula, providing shelter, food and clothing is turning into a year-round effort. But it’s especially critical in the winter, and that’s where the grassroots group “David’s Angels” continues to make a huge difference.
This week, “David’s Angels” volunteers teamed up with the Union Gospel Mission to distribute a small mountain of relief supplies at the Hope Day Center.
Organizer Judy Sass says the response to the call for donations of warm clothing, and especially socks and boots, was especially robust this year.
“Well, the wool socks that they wear in their boots if they get two or three days, that’s pretty good. And we have had so many donations of socks this year, it’s just been wonderful,” Sass said. “We actually started providing socks after the flood this year. We had tents and sleeping bags and socks, the important things. So this year we’ve been distributing since April. Usually it’s once a year and this year we’ve really been busy.”
The flooding last May and June did provide some unique challenges for the safety and welfare of the homeless population, because so many of them lost their gear when camps along the Clark Fork were inundated.
But because of the generous donations, “David’s Angels” and the Union Gospel Mission had reserve supplies on hand. And it looks like that will be the case for 2019, with a contingency for other emergencies.
“We give the extras, when we have them, to the Union Gospel Mission. They’re out there in the camps. They take care of our distribution. And we will have some stuff left this year, but that way we can respond quickly when someone needs anything, basically.”
But beyond helping to restock, this effort is really about the Christmas spirit. Showing love and care at a time of the year when it’s needed the most. Enough to lift everyone’s spirits by re-discovering the human nature we all have in common, no matter what the circumstance.
“One lady came and said ‘I couldn’t not be here. I had to come and help’.”
If you’d like to be involved with “David’s Angels”, with either volunteer time or donations, you can always call Judy Sass at 406-550-1021.
Reporting by Dennis Bragg for MTN News