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story.lead_photo.caption 2018 FILE: Michelle Kelsey, right, along with her son Jared Maute and daughter-in-law Dannielle Maute, accept prepackaged food boxes in October 2018 from Cristal Backer as they visited booths in the First Christian Church gymnasium. Backer is the regional coordinator of The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri, one of the participants in Friday's fourth annual Project Homeless Connect. A number of Jefferson City churches along with employment and social services agencies, veterans' support groups and health services combined to offer services for area people facing homelessness. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

It's time to think about how you might participate in Project Homeless Connect.

The event — to be held for the fifth time in Jefferson City on Oct. 18 — helps people experiencing homelessness to connect with service providers. It requires hundreds of volunteers and truckloads of donations.

Donation Day for the fifth annual Project Homeless Connect Jefferson City is Saturday.

Saturday is a big day for the project, according to Amy Rogers, media co-chair for the event.

Organizers would like to receive new washcloths, adult underwear (for men or women) and tube socks. They also request hygiene items such as nail clippers, razors and feminine hygiene products; clothing and shoes.

Clothing and shoes may be gently used and in about any size, Rogers said.

"A person walking around on the streets can go through a pair of shoes in a couple of months," she said.

Sneakers are good, but also consider that the population who will use the shoes will also want dress shoes for events like job interviews.

As for clothing, jackets and coats are good — but think layers.

"Anything they can wear. A lot of people who experience homelessness are mobile," Rogers said. "They don't have a place to put things, so they like to layer clothing. They don't carry so much in a bag — it's on their person."

Items may be dropped off between 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at the Monroe Street entrance to First Baptist Church, 301 E. Capitol Ave. Volunteers will be on hand to carry items into the church.

First Baptist Church is one of three churches along Capitol Avenue that provide space for the annual project.

The others are First United Methodist Church at 201 Monroe St. and First Christian Church at 327 E. Capitol Ave. Other churches provide transportation and volunteers.

During the event, people experiencing homelessness will be able to connect with service providers, community organizations, social services, shelters and thrift shops. They'll be able to receive same-day health screenings, eye exams and dental screenings.

Last year, dental services were provided inside the Community Health Center of Central Missouri's mobile dentistry unit.

The large converted recreational vehicle contained three permanently mounted dental chairs where dentists were able to perform checkups and minor dental procedures.

However, the May 22 tornado that struck Jefferson City destroyed the RV. It was covered by insurance and should be replaced soon but may not be available in time for the project, Rogers said.

Instead, the health center is going back to its first-generation mobile dental vehicles, which transport the equipment to sites. Once the equipment is on-site, staff have to schlep the dental chairs and other equipment inside and set up a designated room for dental services.

The big need for the project is volunteers.

As of Tuesday, there were 684 positions listed on the volunteer sign-up page.

Only 51 had been filled.

Although the list has 684 positions, that doesn't mean the project will require another 630-plus volunteers. The periods of time for positions are short, and typically people sign up for multiple opportunities, Rogers said.

The big push is to get "tour guides" — those volunteers who connect with the clients when they come into the event and help them find the services they want.

The big rush of clients comes right at 9 a.m. Oct. 18.

"We are in desperate need for about 200 tour guides right at the beginning," Rogers said. "Those people greet the guests, converse with them and make sure they have everything they need."

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