Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - With another winter about to descend on Missoula, the Poverello Center is making preparations to house and feed the homeless and hungry for another season by bringing back a successful fundraiser called ‘Pumpkins for the Pov’.

On Tuesday’s KGVO Talk Back show, representatives from the Poverello Center were in the studio to share important information about how the center serves the community.

Clair Bopp is the Director of Shelter Services who said the Poverello still maintains the COVID residence requirement numbers.

“At this juncture the guidance from the CDC hasn't changed much for congregate living facilities since the beginning of the pandemic,” began Bopp. “So we're still at a maximum capacity of 88 people in our emergency shelter. At Johnson Street, we're able to serve up to 150 individuals, and by that I mean 150 individuals who are able to stay six feet apart from others in order to stay safe from COVID, and then also the cold of course.”

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Bopp said the Johnson Street Warming Center is going into its third year of operation, and she looked back at the lessons learned as winter approaches.

“The first year I had never done anything like a low barrier warming center in this town, and so we certainly encountered challenges in our first year 2020 to 2021,” she said. “We learned from that and this year I'm excited to give it a go for a third year hoping that we can make it even better for our guests and then also staff and neighbors.”

Director of Development Stephanie Dolan said the number of people accessing the Poverello Center’s food programs has increased dramatically.

“We've also seen an increase over the past few years of people accessing our food programs by about 25 percent,” said Dolan. “That has really exacerbated the need to create more meals, requiring more food, and honestly with the economic crisis from the pandemic food rescue (collecting food from local grocery stores) has been a little bit more slim so we have to get a lot more creative with the food that we have.”

Regarding the most important fundraiser of the year, ‘Pumpkins for the Pov’, Dolan provided details.

“The way that it works is we have a local farmer who has donated his organically grown pumpkins to us,” said Dolan. “We went out and did a harvest with a bunch of volunteers a couple of weeks ago and we have another harvest tomorrow. then our ‘Missoula Works’ get it done crew delivers them to grocery stores and locations all over town where you can purchase them for $10 bucks apiece. You can get them at the YMCA, the Good Food Store, the Rattlesnake Market, the Trough, Imagination Brewery and all of the Parkside Credit Union locations.”

Click here to get more information about the Poverello Center.

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