Fundraiser helps raise thousands of dollars for local organizations fighting homelessness

Published: Feb. 8, 2021 at 8:22 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - When temperatures drop, most of us opt to stay indoors and stay warm but that’s not an option for some.

Neighbors helping neighbors in need, that’s the idea behind a local fundraiser organized by Eau Claire City Councilmember Andrew Werthmann.

“It definitely made sense to think about people in our community for one reason or another don’t have the ability to sleep indoors or have a roof over their head,” he says.

One of the beneficiaries of Werthmann’s Facebook fundraiser is the Chippewa Valley Street Ministry, which helps those facing homelessness.

“Whatever someone might need, whether it’s food or a heavy coat, they do a lot of backpacks, hats and gloves,” Werthmann says. “They also just check on someone’s mental well being or physical well being. This is an organization I have volunteered with, they do great work. They also work with a great number of partners in the community too.”

The fundraiser initially had a goal of $5,000.

“It reached that in a couple hours so we kind of came together and made a list of different organizations that could also use the support who do direct help with people experiencing homelessness,” Werthmann says.

It grew to more than $15,000 with nearly 400 people contributing.

Thanks to the donations, more organizations, like the Eau Claire Area School District Homeless Program, will also receive extra help.

“That funding is so important for us to be able to have the ways to get the resources that our students need,” says Program Coordinator Dani Claesges.

She says it provides school supplies and warm clothing to homeless students in the district.

“Given COVID and a lot of families are struggling with that then it being cold and definitely needing that winter wear, this is going to be a really good time to receive those funds.”

Claesges says programs like hers are seeing an increase in services since the pandemic began, and the cold weather makes it even busier.

Werthmann says people have been chipping in what they can with donations ranging from $5 to $200.

He says Facebook fundraisers typically take 2 to 4 weeks to get the donated funds, that’s why he is fronting the money out of his own pocket to help make sure the money raised has an immediate impact on organizations who need it.

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