Helping Works

Words are powerful: Write and inspire a homeless kid in Boise

Campers placed redwood in the fire, symbolizing the blood of soldiers, during the recent ceremony to retire worn flags.
Campers placed redwood in the fire, symbolizing the blood of soldiers, during the recent ceremony to retire worn flags. Hycliff LDS Camp

Boise Rescue Mission organizes an annual backpack drive to make sure children living in its shelters have the supplies they need to start their school year and blend in with kids from more affluent homes.

That supply drive will happen again, but in addition, the mission is asking people in the community to make a different kind of donation, an encouraging note to let homeless students know their community is with them. Rescue Mission staffers are collecting messages online. They’ll print them out and put them in each of the backpacks they hand out when school starts.

The idea for the notes came about after a donor who gave backpacks thought of including notes inside.

“The kids just loved it,” said Jean Lockhart, Boise Rescue Mission chief operating officer.

So if you have some words to share with a young student, or have learned a lesson about school, life, friends or challenges that might help a young person in a tough situation, leave your messages at

Also check the site for more ways you can donate to help homeless students and their families, or call the mission at 208-343-2389 for more information.

The mission is collecting backpacks (adult-size, needed by most kids in elementary through high school), school supplies and back-to-school clothing. To find out what’s needed and how to deliver it, contact Sarah Eisenberg at 208-343-4680.

“We have to get kids excited about school and that means having the right supplies and the right clothes to wear,” said Lockhart. Kids shouldn’t have to be embarrassed about their clothes, or their backpacks, or anything else.

On a related note, Chick-fil-A restaurants in Boise and Meridian will hold a weeklong fundraiser for the mission July 16-23. Diners will be able to add a dollar or more to their bill that will go to the mission. On July 21, mission staffers will be on-site serving customers and collecting donations directly.

“We don’t know if people realize, but we have 400 people a night checking in to our shelters,” said spokesman Jason Billester. That means thousands of meals served, each of which costs $2.05 for the mission to provide.

Nampa calls for artists

The Nampa Public Library invites artists to apply to create a mural that will celebrate the Valley’s Spanish-speaking communities. The mural, funded by a grant from Key Bank, will hang in the library’s Spanish language area.

Here are the requirements potential artists should keep in mind: The mural should be of cultural and/or historical importance to the Spanish-speaking community of the Treasure Valley. It should reflect themes from the Latino community, including balancing educational aspirations with work in agricultural and other fields, and excite the community.

If you’re up to the challenge, pick up an application at the Nampa Public Library Borrower Services desk or find one on the library’s website. Applications are due by Aug. 2. Two finalists will be chosen. Their proposals will be on view for public comment later this fall. The budget for the project is $2,800. Contact Claire Connley, Nampa Public Library assistant director for more at 208-468-5806.

Idaho FoodBank Fund opens grant application cycle

Any 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization located in Idaho with services aimed at hunger relief is eligible to apply for a grant to help support programs and services, food purchase, equipment, or capital purchases that are intended to reduce hunger. In 2015, 35 grants were awarded around the state.

In 2016, the fund will award a total of $88,800. The grants will be in amounts up to $5,000. Interested applicants are encouraged to get more information and use the application form found at

The Idaho Foodbank, Catholic Charities of Idaho and the Community Action Partnership Association of Idaho grant and administer the awards; applicants are not required to be associated with these organizations to apply or receive funding. The deadline to apply is Aug. 1.

Boise accepting donations for family cooling station

As it has done for several seasons, the city of Boise will offer a temporary cooling station for homeless families with children at the Pioneer Community Center at 500 S. Ash St. in the River Street Neighborhood this summer. The city will open the center whenever temperatures reach 95 degrees, said Paul Schoenfelder, city recreation coordinator who oversees the program.

Donations of diapers, baby wipes, socks or cash for baby supplies and youth activities are welcome. The cooling station works in cooperation with many other programs that support homeless families, including Corpus Christi House, Interfaith Sanctuary and City Lights, so if you have other kinds of donations — water, cots, sunscreen, etc. — Schoenfelder is happy to advise and make connections.

If you’d like to help, contact Schoenfelder via email at pschoenfelder@ or call 208-608-7688 or 208-794-0856.

Operated by the Boise Department of Parks and Recreation, Pioneer Community Center houses seven computers, books and games, art supplies, foosball and air hockey tables, television and a large collection of toys.

A neighborhood program for children normally takes place at the Pioneer Community Center. When it becomes a cooling station, those program move to other city sites, so the youth programs are not interrupted, said Schoenfelder.