A surge in donations has eased fears that the overflow shelter for the homeless will not remain open through the winter in Wichita.
As of early October, donations for the shelter — which opens Monday — were down significantly from previous years and far short of where they needed to be, officials said.
"We only had enough funds to operate the shelter for six weeks," said Janis Cox, co-chairman of Advocates to End Chronic Homelessness, the nonprofit group that oversees the shelter. "That wasn't enough to even get through December."
In the little more than two weeks since The Eagle first wrote about the shortage, Cox said, donations have more than doubled. AECH now has about two-thirds of what it needs to keep the shelter open for a full five months, she said.
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The shelter operates from Nov. 1 to March 31, rotating among downtown churches on a monthly basis.
The shelter served 475 people last winter, Cox said, and nearly half of them were people who had recently become homeless.
Though the number of chronically homeless has dropped in recent years, Cox said, the numbers of "new homeless" — especially families and young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 — have spiked.
More than $24,000 has come in over the past two weeks or so, Cox said. While that figure includes a "generous donation" from one church and another gift from a family foundation, she said all the rest came from individuals.
Organizers are extremely grateful to every person and group that made a donation, she said.
AECH still needs to raise a little more than $18,500 to keep the shelter open for the entire five months, Cox said.
"The last two years we have had some donations from churches coming in during November, December, and January, so we hope that they will be able to support the shelter again this year," she said.