Salvation Army Sees Increase in Number of Homeless Children

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JEFFERSON CITY - The regional coordinator of Salvation Army services for mid-Missouri said Friday the agency is seeing a growing trend of women with children entering its shelters. Kimberly Wilkins brought her family of six to the Center of Hope about three months ago. It's a temporary homeless shelter in Jefferson City run by the Salvation Army.

Wilkins said the transition from living in a house to a staying in a homeless shelter with thirty other people was at first a challenge for her and her family. But she told her children "it could be a lot worse."

Wilkins' story isn't unusual. According to Major K Kendall Mathews, regional coordinator for the Salvation Army, the number of homeless families has increased by 15 to 20 percent.

"We're seeing more women with children. That's a whole new trend for us," said Mathews.

To deal with the increase in families, the Center of Hope is making efforts to make its shelter more kid-friendly. This includes a newly-renovated playroom and more activities geared toward children.

"We want the children to know, even though they're in a shelter, this is home. And there's no place like home. And right now the shelter is their home. We try to make our shelter kid-friendly."

While the Wilkins family may have had a tough adjustment at first, Kimberly Wilkins said she now has to "drag the kids away from this place."

Wilkins said she hopes to find employment again as a childcare provider and save money to send her children to college.

For volunteer opportunities with the Salvation Army, call 573-443-3229 or visit its website.