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Wells Fargo ponies up for Winter Sanctuary

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On the eve of another cold night in Sacramento, Wells Fargo Bank stepped up to give $75,000 to help the city’s Winter Sanctuary program provide shelter for the homeless.

“People talk about ‘occupy this’ and ‘occupy that,’ but this is what people want,” Mayor Kevin Johnson said at a press conference Tuesday. “They want the corporate community to have values that are in line with the least among us in our communities.”

Wells Fargo representative David Galasso presented the $75,000 check at the press conference.

Winter Sanctuary provides shelter to the homeless during the winter months and is run by Volunteers of America, Sacramento Steps Forward – a regional initiative launched in 2010 to combat homelessness – and the faith community.

As of last week, the program only raised about half of its $150,000 budget for this year, threatening the availability of shelter for hundreds of homeless people in Sacramento this winter.

The donation from Wells Fargo Bank provided the final amount needed to support the sanctuary program through March.

“One of the unique things (in Winter Sanctuary) this year is we are seeing a lot of younger people who are experiencing homelessness for the first time,” Volunteers of America President Leo McFarland, said Tuesday.

“It’s not just the very generous donations like this one from Wells Fargo that mean so much (to the program),” McFarland said, “it’s also every $50 check that comes in, and every $500 donation that keeps hope alive. We are very grateful for this effort.”

Although the city provides hotel vouchers and winter shelter beds for a majority of the estimated 2,400 homeless in Sacramento, City Councilman Jay Schenirer said that many who are camping on the banks of the American River can still take advantage of the Winter Sanctuary program.

“We have to think about what the city can do next to make sure people have what they need to survive in this city,” Schenirer said, “and that the city has what it needs to thrive.”

A update on homeless issues in the city is scheduled to be heard by the City Council at Tuesday’s meeting.

Melissa Corker is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCorker.

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