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Hope Center says it needs donations: ‘Our shelves are almost bare’

By Brandi Makuski

The Salvation Army Hope Center is in “dire” need of donations at its Stevens Point location, the organization said on Thursday.

According to Bob Quam, executive director, the organization often sees a spike in donations during the Christmas season, but in recent months the group has been giving out more food than it’s taking in.

“Our shelves are really getting down there; we’re in almost dire straights,” Quam said by phone on April 5.

The group’s Hope Center, a homeless shelter located at 1600 Briggs St., has seen a surge in attendance during mealtimes—which are open to non-shelter residents—as well as requests for two-day emergency food bags.

“The number of people coming in to get meals has increased significantly, and the number of bags we give out has gone up about 50 percent,” he said, adding the emergency food bags are designed to “tide people over” for only a few days until they can connect with a local assistance agency like Operation Bootstrap.

The Hope Center has about 20 beds and serves more than 150 meals weekly, according to Jennifer Lorbecke, volunteer coordinator for the Salvation Army.

“Out of nowhere there’s people in need of food,” said Lorbecke, who’s worked at the center since 2010. “We never turn people away—we just want to help as much as we can.”

At least 40 emergency food bags have been distributed in the past month, she added.

“Dinner [service] is never lower than 30 people,” she said, “and there’s usually people who have to stand to wait for a place to sit before they can eat.”

Quam estimated about half of of recent requests for food assistance have come from families where a head of household has recently lost a job; the other half, he believes, are people struggling to make ends meet after recently moving into the area.

“Our shelves are pretty bare,” he said. “So any help would be appreciated.”

The Salvation Army is looking for donations of the following items:

Elbow macaroni; egg noodles and Ramen noodles; cereal; pancake mix; oatmeal; peanut butter; diced tomatoes; seasoned and Iodized salt; pepper; cake mix and frosting; pasta sauce; rice; instant potatoes; mac-n-cheese; tuna; carrots

Bath towels; wash cloths; shampoo; conditioner; razors; body wash; bleach; dish soap; laundry soap; disinfecting soap and wipes, etc.

Donations can be dropped off at the Salvation Army, 1600 Briggs St. For more information, call 715-341-2437 or email [email protected]