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CAM struggling after cancellation of two fund raisers

Director encourages anyone who fund raised for Grate American Sleepout to turn in donations

  • 2 min to read

SUPPORT — Warren Sims (right) drops off fund-raising money to Dennine Smith, director of CAM.

Coordinated Assistance Ministries Inc. (CAM) was anticipating a solid spring financially with two fund raisers planned – however, that changed quickly.

In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, state and local officials barred events and gatherings with more than 10 people, and CAM subsequently had to cancel two fund raisers that were set, the Grate American Sleepout and the annual Nelson’s Chicken Lunch.

“We are an organization that operates on a shoestring budget, and when something happens, it really impacts us in a major way, especially not being able to have the Grate American Sleepout, which is one of the larger fund raisers that we have throughout the year,” said Dennine Smith, director of CAM.

The Grate American Sleepout, which was set for March 20, was an overnight fund raiser that invited people to sleep outside in cardboard boxes or tents for a night to experience what it would be like to be homeless. While the event aimed to raise awareness to homelessness, Smith anticipated it would have raised upwards of $4,000 for CAM.

With the event canceled, Smith is encouraging anyone who fund raised for the event already to turn in those donations. Last week, Warren Sims, who had been fund raising for it, turned in his donation of $585.

“It’s something we really need for them to do. If they started collecting at all, yes, we really need it. Even though we’re not going to be able to have the event, it’s still something that we just can’t do without the support of people that were planning to participate in it,” Smith said.

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The director said she hopes the awareness portion of the event still can get out through people discussing the event and raising funds.

“I think it will bring awareness by people talking about the fact that there are homeless people out there living in our community, that they need help, and this is what the funds will go toward. It’ll help us continue to staff the agency with people that are able to provide the assistance that’s needed,” she said.

In addition, the annual Nelson’s Chicken Lunch fund raiser set for April 22 was canceled. Smith anticipated that event would have brought in around $1,500.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, CAM remains open to serve the community’s homeless population, but Smith is seeing the impact that virus is having on that population as well, as she said numbers have dropped in terms of those who typically would have visited CAM’s drop-in shelter for coffee, doughnuts, or shelter.

“As you can imagine, when it comes to the CAM center itself, the folks that pass through, the numbers are lower now just because of the coronavirus. People are being extra careful … so we think that some of our normal folks that usually come through, they are just finding places to be. That could be just places around town, or maybe they’re out in the woods, whatever places they have where they just kind of take shelter temporarily,” she said.

In addition to operating the CAM drop-in shelter, CAM also serves as a payee for around 78 households, houses around 45 people nightly, and assists the elderly as power of attorney.

To assist CAM, donations can be mailed to CAM, INC, P.O. Box 523, Kokomo, IN, 46903, or made online at using PayPal.