Minnesota Public Safety organizes care packs for the homeless
Agencies operating under the Minnesota Department of Public Safety are collecting donated items to assist the homeless this winter.
Basic toiletry and clothing items are being collected from across the state by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety for its annual care package campaign.
While it's a statewide effort now, DPS Assistant Commissioner Booker Hodges said it originated in Ramsey County, home to St. Paul. Hodges said he began the program while working for the Ramsay County Sheriff's Office.
"The idea was to provide those people who are experiencing homelessness with a pack of basic necessities, the types of things we take for granted," Hodges said. "For me, the idea came about because we encounter people on corners and one of the things we ask is 'what do you really need,' and these basic toiletries are something they really need."
According to a release, the agency is asking the public to donate items including large or extra large white T-shirts, white or black tube socks, travel-size body wash, deodorant and shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, wet wipes, small water bottles, protein or granola bars and resealable bags. Once assembled, the packages will be handed out by the State Patrol, as well as agents from Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Hodges said packs will also go out to local law enforcement agencies that wish to participate.
"Last year we got the packages sent to all the troopers and BCA agents," Hodges said. "They were being handed out, and then COVID hit. When that happened, I recalled all the packs still in the field and we brought them back to local homeless shelters and they were gone within two to three days of doing that."
In the 2019 campaign, the DPS assembled more than 600 kits and for this year, the goal is to create 1,000 by the end of December. For Hodges, the effort is also a personal event, as his family will be the team packing all of the kits, with the hope of getting them out in early January.
"On a personal note, it's also a spiritual, religious aspect, where I believe we have an obligation to help those people when they're in need," Hodges said.
The DPS is asking those looking to donate to ship their items to Care on the Go, Town Square Security at 445 Minnesota St., St. Paul, MN, 55101.
"This is a statewide effort," Hodges said. "I know a lot of times efforts get focused on the metro, but me personally, I never forget about those in Greater Minnesota, because I know there's a need out there also."