As temperatures dip below 30 degrees, the homeless community in Delaware County may struggle to stay warm, a local nonprofit wanted to change that.
With more than 5,400 homeless in Indiana on any given night, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, Bridges Community Service opened a vending machine that offers necessities, rather than food, on Oct. 31 outside of a Muncie Fire Station, located at 421 E. Jackson St.
“[We want to] reach people out on the streets,” said Karee Buffin, fund developer for Bridges Community Services. “This is for someone not in the shelter.”
The vending machine offers items such as blankets, toothbrushes, hats and gloves. Instead of money, the machine needs five tokens from Bridges Community, located at 318 W. Eighth St.
Some people that come to the nonprofit are uncomfortable asking for these items, Buffin said. The machine offers a way to get warm clothes with “no strings” attached, she said.
“I always think when it gets cold of the homeless on the streets,” Buffin said. “It motivates me.”
The machine lies between the YWCA and Christian Ministries. Buffin said it’s in an area with a high traffic of homeless people.
“We have so many people that go unseen,” said Kait Williams, YWCA director of shelter services. “[The vending machine] has the special things that the homeless population of Muncie really needs.”
YWCA, which offers a women’s shelter, will benefit from the vending machine, she said. Executive director of the men’s shelter at Christian Ministries Andrea Smith said the shelter would also benefit from the machine.
Smith said the vending machine is only open at night when shelter is closed for the day.
“It will definitely benefit our men, just because they are in and out,” Smith said. “It would benefit the single men.”
Donations supply the vending machine. To donate items or monetary contributions, contact Bridges Community Services at 765-282-3948.
Contact Liz Rieth with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @liz_rieth.