Inspired by our fellow students at San Jose State and UC Berkeley (see their fundraising at https://gogetfunding.com/project/sleeping-bag-drive) - a group of Eastern Michigan University students have come together to buy sleeping bags and miscellaneous winter weather gear for the homeless population in Washtenaw County.
OUR GOAL: To purchase and distribute 200 sleeping bags capable of withstanding 0-degree weather. With extra funds, we will purchase and distribute hats, gloves, socks and other winter clothing to keep our homeless population safe and warm.
Washtenaw County's homeless population is struggling amid state cuts to traditional funding resources from the city of Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and the state of Michigan. Each year, less homeless are allowed into Washtenaw County shelters and are forced to remain on the streets. In 2011, 426 out of an estimated 3,000-4,000 homeless were in shelters. In 2013, the shelter population dropped to 344. (source: http://www.annarbor.com/news/report-washtenaw-countys-chronically-homeless-population-doubled-in-last-two-years/). As of the most recent tally, Washtenaw County has roughly 4,500 homeless persons.
Furthermore, despite freezing Michigan temperatures, Washtenaw County shelters cannot remain open during the day unless it drops below 10 degrees. To compare: shelters in Anchorage, Alaska open when the temperature drops below 45 degrees. However, Washtenaw County officials claim that extending hours to open when the Michigan temperatures drop to 40 degrees would require an additional $160,000 to $180,000 in funds. While we cannot hope to raise that much in funding, we can certainly help alleviate the burden by providing desperately needed winter sleeping bags and clothing to the homeless who do not make it into the shelters. Local shelters are already reporting a shortage of hats and gloves as we head into the full force of Michigan winter. (Sources: http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2013/12/ann_arbor_officials_exploring.html; http://michiganradio.org/post/ann-arbor-homeless-want-warming-center-open-doors-40-not-10-degrees). We can be the difference.
As an incentive to donate - We are raffling off two $50 Amazon.com gift card. Any supportor who donates $20 or more will be entered for a chance to win! And, with every additional $20 donation, you can earn an extra entree into the raffle! So, donate $60 and you'll get 3 chances to win. The winners will be announced in mid February.
Finally, if you can’t donate monetarily you can give away your extra sleeping bags, hats, gloves, new socks and coats at the Shelter Association of Washtenaw County located at 312 W. Huron St., Ann Arbor, MI 48103.