Not all young people have a bed to sleep in at night, and for many homeless youth in Salt Lake City, this can be a life or death problem.
This is the reason Jamie Fidler, a senior in marketing, is collecting tents, sleeping bags and U-locks for her senior capstone project. Fidler will donate these items to the Homeless Youth Resource Center (HYRC), operated by the Volunteers of America in downtown SLC.
Fidler was inspired by her mother, who has done extensive volunteer work with the HYRC and informed Fidler of the need for these products.
The center serves those from ages 15 to 22. Jenn Anderson, center coordinator, said it does not have enough resources to hand out sleeping bags or tents as often as it would like, and the demand is high.
“[These items are] fairly high-priced,” Anderson said. “We get a lot of clothes donations, which is great, but we don’t get these items often.”
On average, the HYRC serves about 40 to 60 youths daily. The facility currently is able to provide someone a tent every 10 months and a sleeping bag every three months.
“In the winter time, sleeping bags get wet and freeze, tents get beaten down by storms or otherwise destroyed,” Anderson said. “We can’t replace them as often as we’d like.”
Winter is also when the number of those seeking shelter increases, and construction is currently underway at one of the locations, so capacity is limited. Anderson said some people, especially during the summer, feel more comfortable sleeping outside, rather than with 30 other individuals inside the shelter. The bags, tents and locks are important for these people as well.
“We want to provide relevant service, wherever you’re at,” Anderson said.
Fidler said she has seen a good response to her project so far, and while she has no target number, she said she hopes to get as many items as she can.
“It’s opened my eyes,” Fidler said. “It’s humbling, how willing people are to help.”
Collection will finish at the end of March, and Fidler plans to give the HYRC one large donation by mid April.
For those who would like to donate, a site is located at the Sill Center on campus. Items should be fairly light-weight, and can be gently used.