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Councilman challenges community to raise money for homeless
Forrest White

As the season of giving quickly approaches, one city councilman has challenged community members to give back by helping Turlock’s homeless population.

Following Tuesday evening’s City Council meeting, Councilman Forrest White shared that he had donated $500 to the Turlock Gospel Mission, a local non-profit organization dedicated to helping and feeding the homeless. With a goal of reaching $500,000 by the end of December, the councilman issued a challenge to see at least 1,000 Turlock residents and local businesses match his donation.

“I want to take a moment to issue a challenge to 1,000 Turlock citizens, businesses, service clubs and churches to match my $500 donation to the Turlock Gospel Mission,” said White. “If we’re going to address the homeless issue, we need a multi-use facility and a thousand donations at $500 each can help make their new facility a reality by 2014.”

With plans to build a multi-million dollar homeless shelter, the Turlock Gospel Mission has been accepting community donations alongside various fundraising efforts to help assist with the associated costs of the new facility. As the campaign went into full swing Hilmar Cheese Company announced they would contribute $250,000 to the project.

The public concerns surrounding Turlock’s homeless population have increased over the past few months, as local residents and business owners continually express frustration with the homeless people camping out at Denair Park. Various public meetings have been held on the matter, as the City and the Turlock Police Department work alongside community members to find solutions to the growing concern.

Throughout these meetings, many individuals have expressed the need for an overnight homeless shelter in Turlock, while others believe it will only draw more homeless individuals to the community. Councilman White believes that the facility is the only way to properly address the concerns surrounding Turlock’s homeless issue.

“This is not a matter of being conservative or liberal, it’s a matter of being compassionate towards those less fortunate,” said White.  “Yesterday we celebrated Veteran’s Day,” said White. “The ironic part about it is that the largest, fastest growing homeless group is the veterans. So I encourage everyone to step up and send $500 to the Gospel Mission during this challenge.”

The New Life Lutheran Church of Turlock also donated $500 to the Turlock Gospel Mission, following White’s challenge.