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Nonprofits say gift card donations make big impact for homeless youth

(NBC15)
Published: Dec. 27, 2017 at 10:18 PM CST
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For young women staying at

transitional home in Beloit, often times the holidays are difficult.

"Can be a really sad time for youth that don't have a place to be or would like to be with family but can't," said Project 16:49 Executive Director Tammy DeGarmo.

The transitional home serves women ages 18 to 21. Most are still finishing high school or have just graduated and they get help with housing and other resources through Project 16:49.

"16:49 started about four years ago to assist the unaccompanied homeless teens in Rock County high schools and 16:49 represents the 16 hours and 49 minutes between school ending one day and beginning the next which, for our homeless and unaccompanied youth, is a very dangerous time," said DeGarmo. "Not a lot of our youth in Rock County are on the streets but we do have a number that sleep in their cars or public spaces or roam all night at the 24 hour stores but most of them are what we call doubled up or couch surfing."

DeGarmo said holiday breaks are tough when food isn't available through school. That's why Yellow Brick Road has stepped in to help.

"We're definitely stronger together and being able to realize that we both have common goals is huge," said Yellow Brick Road President and Co-founder Marilyn Schuh.

Yellow Brick Road is a new non-profit LGBT organization in Rock County. Schuh said research shows 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT.

"Just reading those statistics, it is something we need to address," said Schuh.

Yellow Brick Road is collecting gift cards to give out to youth who need help. DeGarmo said it is an act of kindness that goes beyond a simple meal.

"People shouldn't have to give up themselves, just to be able to eat... when we talk about human trafficking or survival sex, it's really not a decision to have sex or not have sex, it's a decision of I haven't eaten in three days. If I steal food, I may get picked up and then I end up in jail too... if a gift card can prevent that, we want to make sure we have that gift card in their hands," said DeGarmo.

If you're interested in donating a gift card, visit

Facebook page for more information. So far, about 400 dollars worth of gift cards have been donated. Organizers say donating gift cards of about 10 dollars is ideal.