ST. GEORGE — The multipurpose room at the Switchpoint Community Resource Center was buzzing with activity Wednesday morning as the Cedar City Elks, along with representatives of the Utah Elks and Dixie Elks, met with area homeless and homeless veterans to hand out backpacks and lunch.
The gathering was made possible by the efforts of Cedar City Elks Lodge treasurer and grant coordinator Kari Davis who had a strong desire to give back to the community. Davis applied for a grant through the national Elks organization and was awarded $2,000.
With the money, Davis and the Cedar City Elks Lodge 1556, purchased backpacks and stuffed them with needed supplies such as toiletries, warm socks, winter hats and other items.
Several backpacks were handed out at Switchpoint and others will be delivered to areas in Iron County. Any leftover backpacks will be spread throughout the state, Davis said.
Utah Elks veterans chairperson Bob Pagnani was on hand to participate in Wednesday’s event. Pagnani is responsible for all 11 Elks lodges in the state to help with veterans and homeless programs, he said.
Pagnani oversees activities that help promote the Elks’ motto which is “Elks care and Elks share.”
As the winter months approach, Pagnani said, he wants to assess the needs of the homeless population throughout the state to see what the Elks can do to help, especially where children are concerned.
“This is so warming that we could give back,” Pagnani said. “There’s rough times for everybody. Everybody hits a low and if we can make a high one day and just give a little bit of joy then we have served our purpose.”
Along with handing out backpacks, the Elks used additional resources and purchased lunch for those homeless and homeless veterans who came to Wednesday’s event.
Switchpoint Community Resource director Carol Hollowell said she thinks it is awesome when a community or group wants to become engaged. It is great for the homeless population to know that there are support systems like that available, she added.
For community members wishing to help serve the homeless population, Hollowell said there are three main ways they can become engaged.
The center is currently seeking financial donations to help build the RiverWalk Village, an afforable housing complex that will help low income individuals, families and veterans break the cycle of intergenerational poverty and provide a safe living space while they work toward becoming self-sufficient. Donations can be made online.
- Switchpoint shelters 2,000 so far, affordable housing in the works
- Affordable housing project moves forward
Additionally, Hollowell said that cash donations help the center match grant funds and go a long way toward helping with operations of Switchpoint.
Switchpoint Community Resource Center has an up-to-date wishlist on their website which contains items many people don’t think of when going to donate. Much needed items like toilet paper, trash bags and other supplies cannot be purchased with grant funds, Hollowell said. Other items like city bus passes help their clients with needed transportation around the city.
Hollowell encourages anyone wishing to donate items to look at the wishlist first.
Switchpoint is always looking for people who want to donate their time. A volunteer coordinator can match volunteers to jobs that suit their skillsets or schedules.
A list of available volunteer positions can be found here.