Social media helps spark homeless shelter donations in Dubuque - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Social media helps spark homeless shelter donations in Dubuque

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Through the use of social media, a group called Dubuque Blessing Bags was created this week in Dubuque. The group was created through a simple post on a Facebook discussion page, which eventually sparked a conversation between dozens of people. Lynda Murphy helped create the group: 

"I was on Facebook on a discussion website forum and I happen to see a lady who said that she saw a homeless man sitting in front of the Oky Doky on a bench. She said she could tell he was homeless but she had a crisis of her own, she had to get to a hospital for her child, and she couldn't stop and help." Murphy said.

After reading that post on the way to her office with her family, Murphy, her husband and children decided to try to find and help the man. Turns out, she was not alone.

"So I get back on the discussion and another couple were looking for him as well. We went back on and she said he was not at the Oky Doky. But she said another gentleman had dropped off a coat and two blankets for him," Murphy said.

The man was eventually found. Murphy and others gave him food, and dropped him off at a local homeless shelter. The story gained a lot of attention through Facebook, with many wanting to help other homeless individuals in Dubuque. That's when Jeff Lenhart proposed the idea of Dubuque Blessing Bags. They are bags for homeless people containing items to help them.

The idea took off, and generated so much interest, Murphy had to create a completely different Facebook page:

"Within 24 hours the discussion got so big on the other forum page and Twitter account that I had to get off. That's when I started Dubuque Blessing Bags." Murphy said.

The page was created on Wednesday and by Thursday already had more than 100 members. But even before that, donations started pouring in. By Thursday, donations filled her office.

Rick Mihm is Executive Director of the Dubuque Rescue Mission. The mission provides for dozens of men who are homeless. Mihm says the  mission relies on donations for 100% of its funding:

"This is our biggest time of course. So this is the time that we really need peoples support." Mihm said.

He says he looks he looks forward to donations from the Dubuque Blessing Bags group throughout the year: 

"There are lots of people at this time who want to volunteer and help out and give. But what about in January, February, March, and April, those late winter and early spring months where perhaps they don't have all the things that they need?" Mihm said.

As the cold weather hits eastern Iowa, Mihm says The Rescue Mission is in need of winter clothing.

"Right now, and this is a hard one because it is not the cheapest thing in the world, but winter boots is what many of our men need," Mihm said. "We get some that get donated but many times, the winter boots donated to the store are pretty well worn, so they are not in very good shape."

Mihm says many of the men need size 10, 11 and 12 boots. But along with boots, he says the men can also use winter coats, especially large, and extra large. They also need gloves and hats. 

If you would like to find out how you can get involved or donate to Dubuque Blessing Bags CLICK HERE or search Dubuque Blessing Bags on Facebook.

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