TACOMA, Wash., Nov. 21, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Today Columbia Bank launches the annual Warm Hearts Winter Drive to benefit homeless shelters in communities across the Northwest. Now through December 31, 2016, Columbia Bank will be accepting cash donations and new winter wear attire as it aims to raise $160,000 for people in the Northwest impacted by homelessness. Donations can be submitted at WarmHeartsWinterDrive.com and both cash and warm winter attire can be donated within all Columbia Bank branch locations across Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the number of people experiencing homelessness in the Northwest has increased six percent since 2015. As a result there are 34,000 people struggling to receive essential services and stay off the street as they face overcrowded and underfunded shelters during the cold winter months. Columbia Bank established the Warm Hearts Winter Drive in 2015 to help aid nonprofit organizations in providing warmth to individuals, families and children in need. "Thousands of families in our communities are homeless this winter, and those living on the streets have a much higher risk of exposure when it is cold and wet outside. We are proud to continue the Warm Hearts Winter Drive to help those around us who are truly in need," said Melanie Dressel, President & CEO of Columbia Bank. "The purpose of the Warm Hearts Winter Drive is to continue to raise awareness of this growing issue, and we are hopeful that our customers and employees will join together again to help these deserving organizations and the people they support." During the inaugural year of the Warm Hearts Winter Drive, Columbia Bank employees and local communities collected nearly 12,000 items of winter wear and raised more than $150,000 to benefit 53 homeless shelters in the Northwest, including the Portland Rescue Mission, Seattle Gospel Union Mission and Tacoma Rescue Mission. Just as during its initial year, one hundred percent of the clothing and funds collected during the 2016 Warm Hearts Winter Drive will be donated directly back to 49 shelters and relief organizations in the communities where the collections originated. "We are overwhelmed by the support of Columbia bank, their customers and staff," said Mike Johnson, Executive Director of Tacoma Rescue Mission. "Now, more families and children are able to overcome homelessness. The need is real and broad; this help is essential." "For nearly 70 years Portland Rescue Mission has existed with one specific purpose; to give hope and restore life to men, women and children in our community suffering from hunger, homelessness and addiction. This would not be possible without the compassionate support from community partners like our friends at Columbia Bank," said Mike Deckon, Director of Marketing for Portland Rescue Mission. "Last year alone Columbia Bank's Warm Heart Campaign provided meals, shelter and care for 9,375 people in our community. On behalf of those we serve, we want to say thank you to the entire Columbia Bank family. We're very grateful to be partnering with you once again this year."