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Local Charities Encourage Responsible Donations | News

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Local Charities Encourage Responsible Donations
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In this economy, it seems like everyone could use a helping hand, and the Las Vegas community is reaching out to help our local homeless.

The regional group that coordinates homeless issues says it appreciates the goodwill, but it says the way some are helping is not the best way to solve the homeless problem.

Along Main Street, just north of Downtown Las Vegas, tents are pitched where many of the valley's homeless live their lives. Local social service providers say churches and individuals frequently come by to drop off clothes and food for some of the valley's neediest.

"What we want to do is encourage is all of our folks who are out there doing feedings and giving donations to really partner with the established non-profits that provide the housing, so that we can not only give someone a meal but we can actually move them in towards ending their own homelessness," said Shannon West with the Committee on Homelessness.

To help get the word out on the issue of responsible donations, the Southern Nevada Regional Planning Commission is now handing out brochures on the do's and don'ts of helping the homeless community.

For example, the Salvation Army provides a daily meal service to about 400 homeless residents. Rather than an individual church providing a meal service on the street, the Salvation Army would like the church to join the existing effort.

"To come in to our homeless dining room, to provide the type of ministry that they could on the streets, certainly if they would like to help us serve the meal, prepare the meal, even bring fresh food for us to prepare for the meal. We welcome them into our fold," said Susan Markham with the Salvation Army.

Jerome Davis was homeless last November. Thanks to the Salvation Army, he is now working to rebuild his life, "It has been a great benefit to me."

It is the kind of positive long-term outcome outreach groups hope to see.

In 2007, a census of the homeless found more than 11,000 people living on the streets and in shelters. The final numbers from the 2009 homeless census have not yet been released, but that number is expected to be much higher.

The homeless census is taken every other year.

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