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Donations program continues to fill needs locally

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
December 1, 2011
— Rummage sale season is over, holiday cleaning has started, and Laurie Valley wants people to consider donating items before sending them to the landfill.

"There's a need for anything and everything, especially warm clothes and bedding," Valley said.


Valley continues to lead an unnamed community donations program she started 18 months ago. She collects donations and passes them to local agencies that need help. She's been working the YWCA of Rock County, GIFTS homeless shelter for men, Pregnancy Helpline of Janesville, House of Mercy homeless center and Acts of Kindness, a charitable organization.


"People are in need all the time," Valley said.


She said some people can't even afford to shop at thrift stores anymore.


"It's just the new way of life with the economy the way it is," she said.


As a Janesville police officer, she sees the needs firsthand.


When she recently delivered a truckload of donations to Acts of Kindness, the household items didn't even get into the building because two families unloaded them into their cars, Valley said.


"I was so happy these people were getting what they needed," she said.


Paul Benish, vice president of GIFTS, said what Valley has done for the men's homeless shelter is wonderful.


"A lot of times, the guys will come in with just the clothes on their backs, and sometimes those are not in too great of shape," he said.


The men pick from clothes Valley has donated.


"When these men see what volunteers are willing to do for them, for some, it's the first time in their lives somebody gave a rat's about them or cares about their well being. In turn, they have a tremendous sense of gratitude for what's being done," Benish said.


Valley has given GIFTS lots of bedding donated by local motels.


"We couldn't do what we do without donations from people like Laurie. Everything we have is donated. We don't have paid staff. We rely 100 percent on donations to carry out our mission," Benish said.


Benish said Valley's skill is matching donated supplies with organizations that can use them, which she has done several times a year since GIFTS started in 2007.


As a police officer, it is Valley's job to protect and serve.


"We know she does that," Benish said, "but the serving part, Laurie takes above and beyond the call of duty. And for that we're very grateful."


TO DONATE

Residents with items to donate to charity organizations can call Laurie Valley at (608) 921-2998 or call the following agencies directly:


YWCA of Rock County—1735 S. Washington St., Janesville, which offers programs including Alternatives to Violence, Transitional Living, Hispanic Outreach, CARE House and child care through it's mission of creating a world of peace, racial justice, dignity, freedom and equality for all.

Call Nadia Freie, office manager, at (608) 752-5445, Ext. 202, or call the general number at (608) 752-5445, Ext. 200.


GIFTS—God is Faithful Temporary Shelter is a men's homeless shelter that rotates from church to church in Janesville, one week at a time October through April.

Call Paul Benish at (608) 751-7848, email paulbenish@yahoo.com or call the GIFTS Hotline at (608) 728-0140.


Pregnancy Helpline of Janesville—This agency at 21 S. Jackson St., Suite C, operates a 24-hour hotline and assists those who find themselves in this difficult position by providing a caring, confidential environment where clients can explore creative alternatives to problems associated with pregnancy.

Call Barbara Niedermeier, executive director, at (608) 755-9739 or email Barb@pregnancy-helpline.net.


House of Mercy—This 25-bed homeless center, 320 Lincoln St., Janesville, provides homeless families throughout southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois with short-term emergency shelter and access to housing, job placement and child care resources. Staff at the center helps the homeless in assessing their needs, obtaining appropriate referrals and services, and designing an action plan aimed at achieving more stable housing.

Call (608) 754-0045 for a wish list of needed items.


Acts of Kindness—This charitable organization distributes donated items to people at no cost from a donated building on Janesville's near south side.

Call Shelly Danks, founder, at (608) 728-0841, to schedule an appointment, or drop off items between 1 and 5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays.



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