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'Tis the season for make-or-break fund drive at homeless shelter

Holiday donations account for up to half of Twin Cities PADS operating budget

STERLING – While Twin Cities PADS Executive Director Myles Newberry has great faith in the community’s generosity, the holiday season is still a bit nerve-racking.

Like many nonprofits, the success of the homeless shelter’s holiday fundraising campaign is critical to its operations. The fundraising initiative started several years ago as a way to pay for putting up some of its residents at a Rock Falls hotel for dinner and time with family during Christmas. Gifts have also been bought or donated for the participants.

That hotel stays will continue, but fundraising for the event has snowballed into something much bigger.

“People look hard at donating this time of year, and now about half of our annual budget can come in during the holiday drive,” Newberry said.

The shelter’s annual budget is about $55,000, and most of that money comes from donations. Newberry said the campaign technically runs through the end of the year, but holiday contributions trickle in through mid-January.

The holiday drive yielded $15,000 last year, and Newberry would like to at least match that total this year. They are about one-third of the way to that goal.

Last year ended with a pleasant surprise from the Tri-County Opportunities Council. The agency gave the shelter a $10,000 grant, which couldn’t have come at a better time.

“Both of our refrigerators had just gone out, and luckily this grant could be used for appliances,” Newberry said. “We were able to get a new fridge, freezer, stove, washer and dryer – we’re covered on appliances for the next 20 years.”

While the shelter has hundreds of volunteers when local churches and schools are factored into the mix, there is still a need for help at certain times.

“We’re trying to focus more on the 7 to 11 p.m. shift because we’ve really struggled to find people to help us late at night,” Newberry said.

As in past years, the shelter is open from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Oct. 1 through May 1. The building is open all day Sundays, and when temperatures dip below 10 degrees.

Since opening in October, the shelter has averaged between six and eight residents. That is up from four to six residents during the same time last year.

“We’ve had some mild weather so far this year, but we’re getting ready for the big push in January and February,” Newberry said.

The shelter’s staff – all part-timers – include Newberry, a client advocate, and two evening workers.


Donations to Twin Cities PADS can be made on the shelter's website at, or at its Facebook page. Volunteer sign-up sheets are available on the website. Prospective volunteers also can call the shelter line at 815-626-2210 or send a message via the Facebook page.

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