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Events spotlight homelessness, hunger

Donations of winter wear, toiletries being accepted

Take a look at America’s homeless: They are families with children, men and women with jobs that don’t pay enough, battered women, despondent veterans and people with mental illness or drug addictions.

There’s no way of knowing how many people in the nation are homeless because homelessness is often temporary. But the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty estimates that in any given year, 3.5 million people – including 1.35 million children – are likely to experience homelessness.

In 2006, 6,188 homeless people received social services in Spokane. More than a quarter of them were children.

So many people from so many walks of life cannot be dismissed as victims of their own making, social service professionals say.

Next week, Spokane joins communities across the nation in bringing greater awareness to hunger and homelessness.

“It’s giving an opportunity for the community to be aware of hunger and homelessness, how many people are really affected and what needs to be done,” said Madelyn Bafus, chairwoman of the committee organizing Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week for the Spokane Homeless Coalition.

Events include:

•Monday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Homeless winter wear drive

Donors may drop off new and gently used coats, hats gloves, scarves, socks and boots at the Homeless Resource Center, 520 S. Walnut St. Items will be distributed by Spokane Mental Health’s homeless outreach team.

•Tuesday, 7 to 10 a.m.: Toiletry drive

Donations of items such as toothpaste, soap and shampoo can be dropped off at Global Credit Union, 1520 W. Third Ave. The items will be distributed to local shelters.

•Wednesday, 8:30 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.: Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Conference

The public is invited to workshops at Spokane Community College’s Lair Auditorium presented by local social services agencies. College students may participate in an essay contest based on information provided at the workshops.

•Thursday, 5:30 p.m.: Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Walk

Participants will be provided a dinner of bread and soup. There will be a program on homelessness and a tour of shelters and social service agencies.

•Friday, noon to 1 p.m.: Memorial service

A service at Westminister Congregational United Church of Christ, 411 S. Washington St., will honor local homeless people who died in the past year.