Winters in the Black Hills are hard enough with a place to go home to at night and a warm meal to eat. But for so many in this area, there is no place to go, and there is no food to eat.

On Monday afternoon, community leaders including Mayor Steve Allender, Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris and Pennington County Commissioner Lloyd LaCroix attempted to shed light on the challenges and local initiatives associated with hunger, homelessness and runaway youth when they met in the Hope Center at 615 Kansas City Street.

The result was two proclamations declaring the month of November as National Runaway Prevention Month and the week of Nov. 11 to 19 as National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

“Stop looking away when confronted by something to do with the homeless situation,” Allender said after reading the proclamations to a group of attendees in the Hope Center’s lobby. “Stop plugging our ears and covering our eyes because this is a real life community issue that all communities across America have to deal with. There are many of our brothers and sisters out there on the street that are in need of some basic essentials, something that would be easy for us to pick up while we’re out doing our (holiday) shopping.”

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In conjunction with the kick-off at the Hope Center Monday, several events are scheduled throughout the week to help bring this issue to light. There is a shared meal between area leaders, decision makers and the homeless/impoverished from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 15 at the Old Boys Club Thrift Store, 313 Third St. Also, a Glow Walk begins at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 17 at Main Street Square and will be followed by a memorial and candlelight vigil for the homeless who have died on Rapid City’s streets from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Main Street Square.

Coinciding with the proclamations is the resumption of the city initiative to allow winter clothing and apparel to be placed on the downtown presidential statues. This is the third consecutive year the city has allowed items like gloves, scarves and earmuffs to be placed on the statues. Winter clothing can be put on the statues until March 15.

  Contact Samuel Blackstone at samuel.blackstone@rapidcityjournal.com and follow him on Twitter or Facebook @SDBlackstone.

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City reporter for the Rapid City Journal

City reporter for the Rapid City Journal.