WASHINGTON COUNTY — Hundreds of coats, blankets and hoodies flooded into the Washington County Youth Crisis Center after St. George News released the story Hundreds of homeless youth out in the cold on Nov. 12. So many, in fact, that an entire unused wing of the center became a receiving and sorting room just days after the story published.
For more than two decades, the Washington County Youth Crisis Center, or WCYCC, has helped troubled teens all over the county, offering an array of programs and services in Washington County, WCYCC’s Program Administrator Tami Fullerton said.
Most widely known is “the shelter,” which houses youth ages 10 to 17 who are abused or neglected, are picked up for minor offenses or dangerous behaviors, or who have nowhere to go once they are released from detention.
WCYCC also provides a youth outreach program with three highly trained counselors who are responsible for finding teens with limited resources, who lack a stable home environment or those who are homeless and have nothing at all.
Hundreds of homeless youth in Southern Utah have been in need of blankets, coats and winter clothing. Local outreach counselors continue finding teens who have nothing to keep them warm in the plummeting temperatures, Washington County Youth Crisis Center Director Tami Fullerton said.
Those characterized as homeless include families who are doubled-up and living with other families, she said, and kids who are couch surfing, staying with other friends and the like.
“The number of homeless youth is substantial,” she said.
Since WCYCC operates on a shoestring budget, providing warm clothing items for these youth is virtually impossible without the community’s help.
A generous community
That help came within hours, Fullerton said, when a flood of much needed winter items began arriving in boxes, bags, baskets and even through the mail.
“After the St. George News article ran about our needs and the cold weather,” she said, “the response was instantaneous and overwhelming.”
Not only did the youth connected to WCYCC receive warm coats, blankets and clothing, younger children also received winter coats and items from donations to the shelter. The surplus and smaller sizes were distributed to elementary schools, churches and other local programs, Fullerton said.
“We’ve counted in excess of 300 coats and we’ve given 70 or 80 away already,” she said. “Many of our elementary school counselors have come and picked up coats for kids.”
These donations helped in other ways too. Several teens who owed community service hours spent some of them sorting though items and assisting WCYCC staff, Fullerton said.
Not only did the outpouring of generosity fill a room full of warm winter items for kids who were cold, it filled it with something else.
“This is a room full of hope for some people who are hopeless at this really hard time of year,” Fullerton said.
- New clothing items
The support continues through donations from businesses and nonprofit organizations like PAWS, who continue to donate clothing to WCYCC through their thrift store, PAWSitively Unique Boutique.
For more information on the Washington County Youth Crisis Center, needed donations and how to contribute, contact Tami Fullerton at 435-656-6133.
For information on the Youth Crisis Center and Family Support Center Fundraiser being held Friday, visit Youth Crisis Center and Family Support Center Fundraiser.
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