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Local History

Local Family Challenges Public To Help Homeless

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/localfamil_1485.mp3

"The Kitchen" is a Springfield-based charitable organization which provides shelter, food and clothing for the homeless. A local family is challenging the Springfield community to dig deep into their pockets this holiday season and contribute. KSMU's Jennifer Moore reports.

The O-Reilley-Wooten family of southwest Missouri has opened its checkbooks and is calling on fellow residents to do the same by donating to one of Springfield's largest charities: The Kitchen.

Kippie Kutz, The Kitchen's Assistant Director in Development, explains the O'Reilley-Wooten challenge.

"The family challenges the community to match their 50,000 dollar donation. In other words, if the community raises 50,000 dollars, the O'Reilley-Wooten family will then match that. So it's a 100,000 dollar opportunity for the kitchen. We're approaching the 20,000 dollar mark but we still have a ways to go."

Kutz says the money raised from the challenge will go towards a variety of costs.

"The utilities bills in our buildings are outrageous. It will go to the operating costs of our facilities, like providing shelter, food and utilities to our residents."

The Kitchen houses three shelters: the largeset is called the Missouri Hotel. Currently, 107 adults and 69 children are staying there. The Kitchen also has apartments for families getting back on their feet, as well as a free medical and dental clinic.

We walked over to The Kitchen's apartments to talk to one of the residents living there.

"Hi Shameeka, this is Jennifer...nice to meet you!"

Thirty-one year old Shameeka is a single mother of two.

"My son is seven, he's in Cub Scouts, a pretty typical boy," she said. "My daughter is five months old, her name is Blossom, and she's pretty much a typical baby."

Baby Blossom's big brown eyes melt your heart and her skin is soft as silk.

In March, Shameeka was four months pregnant with Blossom and on the verge of homelessness when she happened to see a sign for the Kitchen. She dialed the number.

"This was my only option."

"So, when you came to the Missouri Hotel, you pretty much didn't have anywhere else to live?"

"Correct."

Just nine months later, she is taking college courses, studying hard to accomplish her dreams of becoming a pediatric nurse.

She credits much of her success to the organization which first put a roof over her head and gave her direction.

"This is a great program," she said. "Anybody can fall and we all need help sometimes. And it is a good program for people with children who want to better themselves, who want to get back on their feet. It helps. It does."

The Kitchen says it hopes the community will respond to the O'Reilley-Wooten challenge by donating before the end of the year.

For KSMU News, I'm Jennifer Moore.

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