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Published August 24 2010

Community sale to rummage up money for homeless youth center

Nearing its one-year anniversary, the Stepping Stones Resource Center is looking for the community’s help to stay on its feet for the long haul.

Stepping Stones, which offers help to teenagers and young adults facing homelessness, will host a community rummage sale Friday and Saturday, with proceeds benefiting the resource center’s programming and operations.

The center, established in September 2009, operates through Fraser Ltd. and provides basic needs and services to 14- to 22-year-olds who are either homeless or on the verge of becoming homeless.

Typically, 10 such individuals pass through the center’s doors each day, with their average age being 19, said Christopher Johnson, Fraser’s community services director.

It’s survival that drives the young adults to seek help from Stepping Stones, Johnson said.

“Half of our population meets the federal definition of homelessness, and the other half are a step away, so it’s really about helping them navigate the adult world,” he said.

Individuals seeking help from Stepping Stones have access to food, clothing, hygienic supplies, computers and a safe place to stay during daytime hours, among other services.

Fraser Ltd. provided the initial financial backing for Stepping Stones, but Johnson said they’re searching for other sources of funding to expand the center’s services.

“It’s kind of like we were given an opportunity to get our footing, and now it’s on us,” he said.

This weekend’s rummage sale is a way to raise some extra funds – and it’s an idea that came from those who use the center’s resources, said Sarah Kennedy, a therapeutic case manager at Fraser.

“Our regulars here wanted to come up with a way to do a fundraiser activity,” she said. “It turned into this idea to do a rummage sale and soliciting donations from the community.”

The outpouring of support was far more than organizers expected.

“I think we’re OK,” Kennedy said of the donations. “What we need now is for people to come shop.”

Items available for sale range from household decorations to furniture sets, Kennedy said. Anything that’s not sold during the two-day event will go to benefit individuals helped through Stepping Stones, she said.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541