Sioux Falls, SD
You often don't see the needy out front in South Dakota. But a local group says they're there, and it's most noticeable in the school system. More than a thousand students in the Sioux Falls Public Schools don't have homes. And one group is trying to keep them warm.
These volunteers may never meet the more than 1000 needy Sioux Falls children they're helping, but that doesn't stop them.
"Last year we had parents that this was the only gift they could give their kids was a new blanket," said volunteer Tracy Vik.
"It's a really overwhelming number especially because I don't think people are aware of it here," said Project Warm-Up founder Kaitlin Vik.
Vik started Project Warm-Up four years ago while attending Lincoln High School. People put together warm blankets for the homeless. Each year number of homeless rises.
"They might be a shelter, might be in their car, they might be doubled up," Kaitlin Vik said.
"We've got so many wonderful, caring, giving entities this time of year but some people fall between the cracks," Tracy Vik said.
Tracy says that's why when her daughter went off to the University of South Dakota, she continued the project. And the mission to distribute blankets has gotten so big, she says it needed a new location this year.
"There are more people in this room than showed up in the first year. It's really gotten a lot bigger," Kaitlin Vik said.
Within the first two hours, 200 volunteers made twice as many blankets as the group did in its first year. Monica Chove is one of them. She and four friends go to Roosevelt High School, and they made four blankets in two hours.
"I just like giving back to the community," Chove said. "I think Sioux Falls is a tight community where we help each other when we need to."
Even when they don't know the families they're helping.
Project Warm-Up gets blankets to needy kids through local school districts and other community organizations. Since it began, the project's given out more than 2500 blankets.