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Homeless giveaway

A woman gets a flu shot at the point-in-time homeless count and winter giveaway at Klamath Assembly of God, now Thrive church, in 2016.

Each year, it gives Klamath and Lake County Community Action Services (KLCAS) and others an idea of who they need to help and where, in addition to coinciding with an annual giveaway to fight homelessness.

The state’s annual point-in-time count of homeless populations begins Wednesday, which coincides with the annual KLCAS Winter Giveaway at Thrive Church, formerly Klamath Assembly of God. The event goes from 9 a.m to noon at 235 S. Laguna St. Provided will be free bags of food, survival items, a hot lunch, blankets and warm clothing, medical and dental care and consultations.

Last year’s point-in-time count approached well over 140 people within the afternoon and 286 individuals in both counties.

Many volunteers and staff at KLCAS go as far as Sprague River, Lakeview and other remote areas of Klamath and Lake counties.

“We try to hit everywhere we possibly can to do the count,” Donna Bowman, KLCAS executive director, told the Herald & News in December. “We’ll work with some of the other organizations here in town too who help us do that count.

One of the most difficult aspects of the count is how the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development classifies “homelessness.”

In Klamath County, Bowman said there may be several families who “double-up” or “couch surf” at a friend or relative’s. This often creates a lack of essential needs for all parties involved.

There may also be those who live in tents, shacks, trailers or other potentially crammed spaces that do not provide for their needs.

“Really, a lot of folks don’t see themselves as being homeless but they really truly are homeless,” Bowman said.

Last year’s event at the church also helped provide flu shots and other essential goods and services for those who are either homeless or may struggle with poverty in the area.

KLCAS defines conditions of poverty as anyone unable to obtain basic needs for food, shelter, heat, utilities, clothing, transportation, health or childcare. The group continually offers other resources, guides and classes to help those in need.

The Lakeview Winter Giveaway will be from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at The Gathering Place at 3 N. F St. The Chemult Winter Giveaway was conducted Tuesday.

For more information on the count and giveaway, call 541-882-3500 or visit www.klcas.org.