St. Luke’s Hospital holds successful drive for Chum

Chum is sorting through a trailer full of donated food, winter gear and other supplies following a successful drive organized by St. Luke’s Hospital.

“Today we have things like toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, all the personal hygiene items, including blankets, jackets, things that people will need,” said St. Luke’s employee and the drive’s organizer Katie Godden.

Godden began collecting donations from her coworkers in her small St. Luke’s office four years ago. She now receives donations of essentials like food and even handmade goods from her fellow St. Luke’s employees from across the hospital’s campus.

“For Chum this is our second year, and it gets bigger every year,” said Godden.

Godden, a single parent who has experienced difficult times herself, said that giving back to those in need is near and dear to her heart.

These donations are essential to Chum’s mission according to Executive Director John Cole.

“We serve hundreds of person every day and every night, because of our 24 hour operation catering for folks who are living outside or who come in from outside during the night,” said Cole. “And so this allows us to be able to give them the basic necessities.”

Chum’s programs serve more than 8,000 low-income, homeless or otherwise marginalized members of the twin ports community.

“This is a quite timely donation, the holiday giving season is over and so to be able to have supplies coming in at the end of January is going to take us into February and March,” said Cole. “This is absolutely wonderful because we operate year-round and the need never goes away.”

Cole described a 27% increase in visitors from 2021 to 2022, and around 100 visitors each night to Chum’s warming shelter.

“So the need is great,” said Cole. “And it keeps growing.”

Weather conditions at night in the Twin Ports can be deadly, so having the proper winter gear, access to a hot meal or a place to warm up for a few hours can be a matter of life and death.

“So to have a constant stream of supplies being brought to us by the good citizens of Duluth and our good friends at St. Luke’s,” said Cole. “This particular contribution is going to really help us to move through the next few months.”