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Week’s programs spotlight poverty

Thu., Nov. 12, 2009

Spokane and Coeur d’Alene will join communities throughout the nation next week in recognizing the toll the economic downturn has taken on people’s lives.

In Spokane, Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week will include five days of programs to support families living in poverty and to educate their neighbors. In Coeur d’Alene, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul will recognize the week through six days of events themed “One Person at a Time.”

“We’re trying to raise awareness in the community around hunger and homelessness,” said Madelyn Bafus, of Interfaith Hospitality of Spokane, which is part of the Spokane Homeless Coalition. “As we approach the end of this trying year, we find the needs to be great.”

The National Coalition for the Homeless estimates 3.5 million homeless people live in the United States, a number that is increasing.

More than 1,500 people are homeless in Spokane County on any given day, according to the Spokane coalition. Many more find themselves on the brink of homelessness as a result of joblessness or medical catastrophe.

“It’s important for citizens to understand what’s going on in their community,” Bafus said.

Here are the programs:

Saturday: A spaghetti dinner will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. at St. Thomas Parish Center in Coeur d’Alene, 919 Indiana Ave. The cost is a donation, and all proceeds go to St. Vincent de Paul North Idaho Warming Center.

Monday: Drop off new and gently used adult coats, boots, hats, gloves and socks at the homeless winter wear drive from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Central United Methodist Church, 518 W. Third Ave. in Spokane. In Coeur d’Alene, at St. Vincent de Paul, from 6 to 8 a.m., Monday through Friday, a community soup kitchen will be open at 108 E. Walnut Ave.; from noon to 1:30 p.m., free lunch will be provided Monday through Friday with a tour of St. Vincent de Paul facilities at 201 E. Harrison Ave.; a food and blanket drive will be held daily for the warming center; and from 5 to 5:30 p.m. a Memorial Vigil for the Homeless will be held at Independence Point in Coeur d’Alene’s downtown city park.

Tuesday: Donate unopened shampoo, deodorant, toothbrushes, shaving supplies and feminine products during a toiletry drive at Global Credit Union, 1520 W. Third Ave. in Spokane.

Wednesday: Contribute toilet paper, paper towels, soap and cleaning supplies during a basic needs drive at the corner of Second Avenue and Wall Street in Spokane. The movie “Where God Left His Shoes” will be shown at Gonzaga University’s Foley Library at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Cost of admission is a can of food.

Thursday: Sit down with homeless neighbors during a community dinner at Central United Methodist Church from 5 to 7 p.m.

Friday: Honor those who died homeless this year during a memorial service from noon to 1 p.m. at Westminster Congregational United Church of Christ, 411 S. Washington St. in Spokane.

Staff writer Alison Boggs contributed to this report.

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