United Way launches WarmSafeFed.org for families in need

The Greater Twin Cities United Way has rolled out a new site — www.WarmSafeFed.org — and announced a $300,000 grant to help area food shelves, homeless shelters and other housing services.

The recession has put significant pressure on Twin Cities nonprofits and charities. There has been a surge in demand for services at a time when donations have dropped.

The United Way is projected to raise about $4 million less this year than in 2008, according to a news release about WarmSafeFed.org.

Here are a few other grim statistics cited by the organization:

— More than 2,000 families in the metro area are without a home.

— One in 10 people in the Twin Cities will struggle with hunger this holiday season. Many food shelves have seen a 40 percent increase in the number of people in need of food this year compared to 2008.

— Twin Cities domestic violence shelters have been at full  capacity for 18 months.

With the grant money, area shelters will be able to help many families move into stable housing. According to the United Way, it costs $7,000 a month for a family in a shelter compared to $5,000 a month for long-term housing.

At WarmSafeFed.org, you can learn more about the economic challenges facing the growing number of people in poverty, donate money and spread the word about the United Way campaign through a variety of social networking sites. The campaign follows the organization’s 2008 holiday campaign, Give5Now.

Here’s a measure of what certain levels of donations can pay for: $10 buys a hot meal or laundry or cleaning supplies for a family moving into stable housing; $50 buys 50 pounds of produce for a family; $75 buys food for three for two days or an hour of legal advocacy; and $5,000 pays for about 1,700  meals or six months of housing for a family escaping domestic violence.

“After we let people know about the critical need for support last holiday season, we saw an outpouring of donations from people all over the community, many of whom hadn’t donated to United Way Before,” said Randi Yoder, senior vice president of donor relations for the Greater Twin Cities United Way. “Our hope is that the WarmSafeFed.org giving opportunity will spark similar reaction this year and increase the impact of our $300,000 grant.”

For more information about the United Way, visit unitedwaytwincities.org or call 340-7400.