Salvation Army Shelter at Full Capacity as Winter Approaches

By: Madeline Anderson Email
By: Madeline Anderson Email

"I worry a lot about not being able to make ends meet." Krista Vancleve said. The struggling mom no longer sleeps well at night.

"This year my husband lost his grandmother, we had been staying with her," the Weston resident said. Now living in a trailer, the problems are only getting worse.

"My husband's not doing too well, he's really sick," Vancleve said. "And my son, he's five, he's autistic. So there's not a lot work-wise that I can do that doesn't keep me away for too long."

The family gets by on food stamps and uses Badgercare to pay for medical bills. And each winter, Vancleve comes to the Salvation Army in Wausau for help buying Christmas presents for her son, Christopher.

"I'm trying my hardest to take care of my family, and knowing that my hardest may not be good enough, it's scary. I don't want my son living on the streets," she said.

The Salvation Army is there for anyone who's struggling--whether they need shelter, a hot meal or holiday gifts. But this year has been the toughest yet to meet that need. In Marathon County, they've seen a seven percent increase in the number of people spending the night, in part because the job search is still bleak for many. In 2011, around 6,000 people used the shelter, so far in 2012, nearly 7,000 have come by. At full capacity now, Lt. Jacob Tripp fears there won't be enough room or resources once the temperatures drop to below freezing.

"We don't want to turn away anyone who needs a place to stay and needs a meal," Lt. Tripp said. "We reach out to the community to help."

That's where the public comes in. All week long, Texas Roadhouse is offering free lunch in exchange for a donation--any dollar amount or a non-perishable food item.

"In the past four years that we've done this, we've raised $70,000 for the Salvation Army," said Tina Johnson with the restaurant.

It's money that can have a priceless impact on a little boy this holiday season.

"Seeing the look on his face, he's so excited that he's got new toys because he doesn't get them very often," Vancleve said.

The lunch deal at Texas Roadhouse goes from 11:30-1p.m. through Friday, Nov. 16. The Salvation Army also accepts donations via their Red Kettle Campaign and also online.

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