Hopkins, MN Lodge News

District No. 4560

Hopkins Wins $10,000 Impact Grant Renewal for Teaming Up For Teens

Teaming Up For Teens is a program sponsored by the Hopkins Elks Lodge #2221 in partnership with other local community service organizations and resources serving the western suburbs. The program started with a small but passionate group of individuals that recognized the need to support teens in the community who are homeless. Homeless Youth In the seven school districts of the west metro suburbs it is estimated that there are upwards of 150 homeless teens with more than 250 estimated to be at risk of homelessness on any given night. And these numbers are climbing. These teens are living on the streets or "couch hopping" among friends and relatives. Even while homeless, these teens are attending school and many have part time jobs all the while trying to hide their homelessness. There are many reasons they are no longer able to live at home including but not limited to substance abuse, divorce, physical or emotional abuse, neglect, being put out of the home due to sexual orientation, mental health issues and/or learning disabilities. The teens are eating, showering and sleeping at school, friends’ homes, other families homes, or even at strangers’ homes. They spend nights outside seeking shelter wherever they can. They cling to their studies and hopes for a future while their security and home life crumble. We want to reach these kids before they are drawn into higher risk areas or situations. Our Program For the past four years the Hopkins Elks Lodge has held a teen drive for winter break to gather needed items such as individual care packages, coat drives, holiday gifts and the like. Starting in 2012, the lodge applied for and received a $10,000 Impact grant from the Elks National Foundation (ENF) to formalize and expand the program to provide what we call "Support Packs" and other goods throughout the year. Through grant money combined with the generous donations of time, money and goods from Elks members, other individuals within the community and community partners, we have been able to provide these personal care Support Packs every month to local schools, police departments and community partners for distribution to the teens in need.    Personal Support Packs The personal support packs contain a variety of items needed for day to day hygiene as well as other necessities as needed throughout the year. These support packs contain full size products such as shampoo, soap, deodorant, laundry detergent, toothbrushes, toothpaste, lotion, tissues, feminine products etc. When available we also include gift cards to local stores and bus passes. At key times during the year the packs are expanded to include seasonal items such as a "back to school" pack. These packs contain notebooks, pens, pencils, highlighters, calculators, 3 ring binders and other essentials for the school year. There is also a "Winter Pack" that includes hats, gloves, t-shirts, under garment, dry skin and lip aid. Then included in all of our various Support Packs is a brochure highlighting some of the resources available to the teens for further assistance including the local health clinic, food shelf and teen programs among others. At several events throughout the year we host an information booth where anyone can get more information about the program and donating time, goods, but more importantly where members of the community can, for just $5.00, sponsor a Support Pack. When sponsoring a Support Pack the individual has an opportunity to write a personal message that will be included with the Support Pack. Many times these heartfelt statements of support can make a teen's day and let he/she know they are not alone. We have partnered with the St. Louis Park, Hopkins and Minnetonka high schools as well as the local police department, health clinic and teen specific programs (e.g. Treehouse) to distribute the Support Packs to those kids in need. Expanding the Program Just last month, the lodge applied for and again received another $10,000 Impact Grant from the Elks National Foundation and we intend to use the money as well as other donations to expand the program by focusing on additional needs of these homeless teens. Next month we will be distributing “clothing packs” which contain brand new sweatshirts, sweatpants, socks, underwear, hats and gloves among other things. We want to continue to expand both the types of products included in the Support Packs as well as the breadth of distribution of the Support Packs to serve even more of the homeless youth in our community. Find out more information on our web site at http://tup4t.hopkinselks.org or on Facebook (search for Teaming Up For Teens)

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