Community

Operation: Connect accomplishes mission

Students from Hyla Middle School on Bainbridge Island (left) were on hand Friday handing out clothes and hygiene items to those in need during last week’s Operation: Connect at the Kitsap Fairgrounds. - Jesse Beals/staff photo
Students from Hyla Middle School on Bainbridge Island (left) were on hand Friday handing out clothes and hygiene items to those in need during last week’s Operation: Connect at the Kitsap Fairgrounds.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/staff photo

Organizers already preparing for next year’s event.

Connecting homeless families and individuals to the programs and services they need to rise above obstacles is often mission impossible, especially in places like Kitsap County where homelessness lurks beneath the surface of everyday Americana.

To accomplish that mission, the Kitsap Continuum of Care Coalition and the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners rallied numerous organizations, businesses and other philanthropic groups for last week’s Operation: Connect.

The 24-hour event at the Presidents’ Hall at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds Jan. 29-30 offered free clothing, haircuts, hygiene kits, toys, camping gear and just about everything else needed to give those battling poverty a sense of comfort and opportunities to connect with many of the organizations dedicated to helping the homeless.

“It went better than expected and we had about 150 households show up,” said Kitsap Community Resources spokeswoman Kathleen Hackney. “It was a pretty huge success.”

About 20 people took advantage of the opportunity to spend the night at the Fairgrounds, which were open Jan. 29, Hackney said.

Paul Carlson, who represents the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Western Washington region, visited the event and said it was the first of its kind that he’d seen, but he definitely liked the idea, Hackney said.

While the total numbers for this year’s countywide homeless count weren’t available by press time, Hackney said plans are already under to have another Operation: Connect with one minor change.

“I think next time we’ll have the services available on both days,” she said.

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