TWIN FALLS, Idaho — The Avenues For Hope Campaign launched in 2011 to help Idaho nonprofits and other organizations provide housing options and more resources. This year, the campaign raised $2,576,098 from over 5,000 donors.
This year marked the second time the Twin Falls School District participated in the program, and they've seen plenty of community support.
"It's been a very humbling experience for me, just seeing the outpouring and feeling the love and gratitude come towards these children and their families," says Becky Jaynes, the school district's At-Risk Coordinator.
The district managed to raise just over $7,000, nearly double the amount from last year, to assist families in need of school supplies and other valuable resources.
"We've identified 273 students and younger siblings that are in the homes, and with this funding, we'll be able to help at least 25 to 30 more families with needs that they have," said Jaynes.
While the campaign is done primarily through a digital platform, the district still received several in-person donations. The Twin Falls Fire Department and City Hall donated blankets and coats to help families stay warm during the winter months. The College of Southern Idaho donated over 130 sets of pajamas, and the Twin Falls Public Library also reached out to do their part.
"The library brought in some games, some food, and they also made a donation of a lot of books, a couple of boxes of books, which is great. I love to give kids new books to read," says Jaynes.
The economic hardship of the pandemic has led to an increase in the need for help for families, and thanks to continued donations from the community, the school district has been able to help those who are struggling.
Ruby Kuzilik lives in Twin Falls and is one of the many people who has faced challenges throughout the pandemic. She lived in a two-bedroom motel room for several months, with nearly all of the money going towards paying the motel bill. The school district helped her and her family get back on their feet over time by purchasing food, kitchen appliances, and other items for her children.
"My husband was the only one that was working. He delivers ice so a lot of the places that he delivered ice to were closed down. He wasn't making a lot, and to be able to get a hold of a resource to help out, it was huge," said Kuzilik.
It took some time, and although things still aren't perfect, she has now managed to find a new job, lives in a small apartment, and is taking it day-by-day.
Ruby says she understands why families may be hesitant or embarrassed to ask for help, but she encourages them to ask anyway.
"Think about your kids first. You want a roof over their head, food in their stomachs, clothes on their backs, you know, them to get their everyday needs. Don't be afraid to reach out."
The school district has an Angel Fund available year-round for any resident that would like to donate.