COUNCIL BLUFFS - It can be easy to take for granted how important transportation can be. Especially for homeless people trying to rebuild their lives.

In an effort to help, three students at Lewis Central High School in Council Bluffs are organizing a benefit brunch and silent auction. The proceeds will be donated to purchase bus passes for people staying at the MICAH House homeless shelter in Council Bluffs.

“This is a bigger problem than some may think,” student Hannah Dunlop said. “Without means of transportation, residents are not able to go to job interviews, to work or access basic necessities such as doctors’ appointments.”

The idea was the brainchild of Dunlop, 15 and her fellow students, Allison Ryan, 15, and Anna Ford, 16. The three are enrolled in the school’s talented and gifted program and, as part of their coursework, were tasked with a community service project.

Dunlop said they were discussing how poverty was a global issue and that led them to look at the homeless shelters in Council Bluffs. In a visit with the MICAH House, the trio found out a long-time donor – whose donations were used to purchase bus passes for the homeless people staying there – had recently ceased making donations.

“We haven’t seen the issues the homeless face until we visited the MICAH House,” Dunlop said. “They explained a lot to us. It is a very clean place and there are good people there. The face of homelessness is not what people think it is.”

Metro Area Transit’s individual bus passes are $1.25 per adult, $1.00 per student and 50 cents per child ages 5 to 9. Children younger than 5 ride the bus for free. The girls hope to raise at least $600.

Haley Blais, Community Relations and Development Specialist at the MICAH House, said the shelter is always looking for bus passes and trying to help their residents find transportation.

“If you don’t have a car, you can’t really get anywhere like work or to government offices to apply for benefits,” she said. “Transportation is absolutely vital to taking those steps toward self sufficiency.”

The benefit brunch will be held from 10:30 a.m. to noon on March 12 at the school, 3504 Harry Langdon Blvd. The menu will include cinnamon rolls, fresh fruit, coffee and orange juice.

The cost is $15 per seat or $100 per table of eight. A reception for the silent auction will begin at 10 a.m. prior to the brunch. Advance reservations are required by Feb. 27. People who wish to attend can pay at the door once they have made a reservation. For more information or to make a reservation, email hadunlop@lewiscentral.org.

“We really hope to raise awareness about the needs of the homeless,” said Ford.

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