SPOKANE, Wash. — Socks, gloves and pajamas might not seem like much, but local charities are in desperate need of the warm clothing to help teenagers experiencing homelessness.
To encourage donations, Volunteers of America and Spokane Neighborhood Action Partners (SNAP) are partnering to encourage the public to host pajama parties, with the ticket of entry into the party being a donation of warm clothing.
It takes time before a child experiencing homelessness will trust an adult trying to help them. Youth Reach Coordinator and Case Manager of Crosswalk Rose Stark said that she uses the donations as a way to get to know the youth.
"After 3 or 4 times of seeing them that trust really starts to happen, and they're like 'Oh, that's that cool lady with the fruit snacks and gloves,'" She said.
The small gifts not only build trust, but also save lives. With freezing temperatures overnight Stark says she sees frostbite often.
It's a problem that Stark sees day in and day out, and she experienced herself.
"At 13 I was living under the Post Street bridge downtown. I started out couch surfing just going from friend's house to friend's house, then fell in with a really bad group. Luckily I got away from that, but I ended up downtown by myself," Stark said.
It wasn't until a friend introduced Stark to the resources at Crosswalk that she was able to get off the streets.
"I really do credit crosswalk for everything. I just purchased my first house at 30 years old [and] bought my very first brand new vehicle," she said.
Those achievements are things that Stark says just ten years ago seemed impossible. Those tough experiences now allow her to connect with youth on a more personal level.
But Stark said she can't do it without help from the community. The donations are pertinent to helping build the necessary relationships with youth.
"It may not seem like a lot to you, but you have no idea the impact that you're making when you donate something like this," Stark said.