Peter Kirk Community Center Advisory Board collects more than 3,000 items for homeless teens

After 12 weeks of collecting, the Peter Kirk Community Center Advisory Board gathered more than 3,000 items to donate to Friends of Youth, which will be delivering those toiletries and non-perishable food snacks to homeless teens across the Eastside.

Karen Westerlund, president of the advisory board, said the drive was an “overwhelming success.”

Community members brought in full-sized toiletries and non-perishable food items to the Peter Kirk Community Center from May 18 through Aug. 15.

“This project was really for the homeless teens,” Westerlund said.

The advisory board donated the items to Friends of Youth Aug. 23.

This was the first year the advisory board has done a drive like this.

Every year the board the board does a project or two for the community. Normally, the board hosts a spring lunch at the community center where they cook a free dinner for the teen center next door.

“We want to be a viable force and give to the community,” Westerlund said.

This year the board decided to mix it up by doing something new. Once they heard how many teens in the area go hungry, cooking one meal just didn’t seem to be enough. So they reached out the Friends of Youth to see what they needed, and they said they really had a need for toiletries, Westerlund said.

“We are struggling with a crisis of homelessness in King County — one that continues to rise each year,” said Jackie Schultz, director of development for Friends of Youth, in an email. “The 2017 Point-in-Time count identified 1,498 unaccompanied youth and young adults in King County.”

This count is double from the prior year’s count of 824, Schultz said.

“Of those 1,498 youth and young adults, 76 percent (1,142) were unsheltered,” she said.

Friends of Youth will distribute the various toiletries — from full-sized shampoo and conditioner to non-perishable food snacks like protein bars — to the 25 sites on the Eastside, in particular the shelter in Redmond, according to Ellie Ashby, volunteer coordinator with Friends of Youth.

“It’s amazing. I didn’t know it was going to be this much,” Ashby said of the amount collected. “Those are things that our homeless youth need.”

The advisory board is very grateful for the community’s support in this project.

Friends of Youth, which has been in operation since 1951, “positively impacts over 5,500 youth and young adults ages 6-24 and their families each year,” according to the organization’s webpage.

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