Backpack Project helps homeless teens

A 2010 report found approximately 150 homeless teens in Walla Walla County.

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To help homeless youths, Providence St. Mary Medical Center and Lincoln Alternative High School are once again teaming to provide homeless teens with grab-and-go backpacks of food and hygiene supplies.

While the Backpack Project is not a solution to the problem of homeless teens, it can provide short-term food and comfort. Teens can pick up the backpacks at Lincoln with no questions asked.

St. Mary is currently holding a drive for donations of money and supplies for the backpacks.

A report published in the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin in 2010 found that approximately 150 teens in Walla Walla County are homeless. For some, homelessness may be sporadic, while for others it is long-term. They are too young to stay in the homeless shelter, so they must find shelter wherever they can.

Providing backpacks and other supplies for homeless teens through Lincoln began as a collaborative effort last year between the school, St. Mary, the YWCA, Lincoln Health Center, Blue Mountain Action Council and Walla Walla City Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Donations of items can be dropped off at St. Mary's information desk. Please tag them: To Organizational Development.

Needed are backpacks; ready-to-eat foods with pop-open lids; beef jerky, granola bars and other high-nutrition snacks that require no preparation; hygiene items such as travel-sized soap, deodorant, nail clippers, shampoo, razors, tissue and toothbrushes; towels; and blankets or sleeping bags.

Homeless teens don't have access to places where they can cook and can't fit much into the backpacks, so large food items aren't helpful.

Donations of money may be sent to Backpack Project, Providence St. Mary Foundation, 401 W. Poplar St., Walla Walla, WA 99362.

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