In a region like ours, it’s not always easy to identify youth who are without a safe place to stay. Most youth experiencing homeless in our area are sleeping on the couches of friends, staying in tents, in their cars or even in primitive shacks and ice houses.

You might be surprised to learn that nearly half of people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota are younger than 24, according to Wilder Research. Further, an estimated 6,000 unaccompanied youth statewide experience homelessness on any given night, but that number could be even higher.

During National Runaway and Homeless Youth Awareness Month, we want to thank the community for working with us to support these youth. Over the past year, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota in Brainerd provided transitional housing, crisis shelter, street outreach and support for more than 120 children and youth experiencing homelessness during a critical time in their lives.

Through LSS, local professionals in our community offer their time and talent teaching youth important financial, job and life skills. Many other caring neighbors reach out to connect with and coach youth who share their interests and hobbies. Fostering these connections with supportive adults helps us show youth they are valuable, capable and loved.

If you are interested in supporting these young people, there are many ways you can help:

  • Take up a collection of socks, underwear, blankets, coats, scarves, winter hats and earmuffs, gloves and hygiene products

  • Consider donating food gift cards or making a financial contribution

  • Assemble a meal basket for youth over the holidays or provide holiday treats

  • Share this with others who may want to make a difference

It’s because of our community’s support that we can provide stability and support a brighter future for children and youth. Thank you for caring about kids.

Maria Essman

Program Manager, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota