HOW TO HELP
• For more information about the Interfaith Homeless Network go to www.ihnchattanooga.org.
• The Grateful Gobbler Walk is scheduled at 8 a.m. Nov. 24, Thanksgiving Day, at Coolidge Park. Advanced registration is $20 per adult. Registration is $25 for an adult after Nov. 16. For more information about the Grateful Gobbler Walk go to www.gratefulgobbler.org or call the coalition at 710-1501.
Families with children under age 6 account for the fastest-growing homeless population in the Chattanooga region, local experts say.
"People have in their minds what a homeless person looks like. There are a lot of people who don't fit that description. Forty percent of the homeless people in Chattanooga are families," said Kathie Fulgham, vice president of the Interfaith Homeless Network board of trustees.
The Interfaith Homeless Network and Chattanooga Homeless Coalition are hosting fundraisers this fall to help end homelessness.
The Interfaith Homeless Network, which uses churches to house families with children, set out to raise $15,000 at its Camp Out to Stamp Out Family Homelessness this weekend.
More than 150 people attended the event and slept overnight at the First Tennessee Pavilion in cardboard boxes to bring awareness to homelessness in Chattanooga.
The Chattanooga Homeless Coalition wants to raise $75,000 during its Grateful Gobbler Walk on Thanksgiving Day.
The walk netted $45,000 in 2010, said Mary Simons, executive director of the coalition.
According to the coalition's 2011 point-in-time count, the number of homeless families in the Chattanooga region doubled in the past year, she said.
"We have some really good programs in the community, but they are stretched. We certainly do need more funding to meet the unmet needs of families," Simons said. That includes rental assistance and emergency shelters for families.
More than a dozen families are waiting for shelter through the Interfaith Homeless Network, administrative assistant Ruth Votava said.
Simons said net proceeds from the Grateful Gobbler Walk will be used to create a fund that agencies can access to help their homeless and near-homeless clients.