Updated: Monday, 10 Jan 2011, 4:49 AM EST
Published : Sunday, 09 Jan 2011, 12:33 PM EST
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - The Homeless Task Force is working overtime trying to help the homeless in Fort Wayne. But one of the biggest challenges is first finding the people who need help.
Debbie Smith is the Co-chair of the Homeless Task Force and told NewsChannel 15 many people don’t want to be identified and those that are willing, often don’t fit in their limited categories.
“We have strict guide lines of who we can count so if someone has slept on a friend’s couch the night before because it's very cold, we can't count them as homeless,” she explained.
But the group of volunteers will not only attempt to count the homeless on January 26, they will help them, too.
“There will be volunteers out in the community registering the homeless and we give away items to each person that comes to be counted,” she said.
But the group needs help from the community to donate those items. Smith said the number one needed item is backpacks, but hats, scarves, gloves, boots, socks, sleeping bags, and hygiene items are in high demand, too.
Items can be donated at three locations and are needed by January 15.
-Covenant United Methodist Church, 10001 Cold Water Road
-Vincent Village, 2827 Holton Avenue
-Trinity English Lutheran Church, 405 West Wayne
Smith said while it's tough to give a definitive number of homeless people, they do know the numbers are growing.
“Last year The Rescue Mission had 109 men at one time and they had beds for 52 and so there were many people sleeping on the floor.”
An emergency shelter location has been set up downtown, but anyone needing assistance is urged to check in at the Rescue Mission at the Superior Street location.
The Homeless Task Force will also host a community meeting January 11. People will be able to find out how and where they can volunteer and help. The meeting is from 7p.m. to 9 p.m. at Downtown ACPL in Meeting Room A.
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