Dress for Success, a local charity that provides women with professional attire, is collecting clothes for its second annual homeless project, which will culminate Jan. 31.
The event, which will coincide with the United Way’s annual homeless count, provides those attending with winter clothes and various toiletries.
This is the second year Dress for Success has hosted the event.
“It helps us help more than just the women in our group,” said Rebeca Serrano, chair of Dress for Success’ Homeless Project. “You don’t have to give something big; you can give something small and it makes a world of difference.”
Last year, the drive exceeded its goal by collecting more than 10,000 items, making up more than 600 packages for those who are homeless.
“It was very touching to see how the community responded,” Serrano said. “It’s really beautiful to see everyone come together.”
This year’s goal is 550 packages. The drive is just beginning, so it has not come close to reaching its goal yet, Serrano said.
According to the United Way count for 2012, 550 people in Wichita are homeless. Of those, 75 are unsheltered, which means they live on the streets or at other public locations. The rest of the homeless people in Wichita are in some sort of shelter but have no permanent home.
Louella Sanders, United Way of the Plains’ director of community impact, said the annual homeless count helps better direct the charity’s services to those in need.
“We use it as an opportunity to build relationships,” Sanders said. “We interview people about their living situations and other considerations to see if our services are meeting their needs.”
The count, which is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is done annually to track trends in homelessness nationally.
“It is very valuable that we track those trends in the community and see where our needs are,” Sanders said. “It helps us better understand the prevalence and scope of homelessness in Wichita and Sedgwick County.”