Nearly 20 restaurants in the New River Valley raised money to help the homeless.
On Tuesday, proceeds from participating restaurants were donated to the organization To Our House, which helps homeless men in the New River Valley.
Some say they believe homelessness often goes unnoticed in smaller towns.
“More populated cities are always the [ones] where it’s easier to see homelessness,” said Elise Roell, who works at Our Daily Bread in Blacksburg, one of the participating restaurants. “So it’s always important to raise awareness to let people know that yeah, this is still a problem.”
While there have been homeless services for women and children in the New River Valley, there weren’t many options for homeless men up until a few years ago.
After a homeless man died in Blacksburg, To Our House launched.
“His death precipitated a conversation that why do we not have anything for homeless men in the New River Valley?” said Morris Fleischer, board president of To Our House.
To Our House provides food, clothing and shelter. While the organization does not have a shelter of its own, it teams up with about 50 churches provide help, he said.
“We’re there to empower the men, and over half of them go out and leave the program with more permanent housing, with employment,” Fleischer said.
The organization also helps homeless men find jobs, training and education opportunities, Fleischer said. The Dining Out For Shelter fundraiser is one of the group’s biggest each year, raising thousands of dollars, he added.
“We’re able to give them those basics, and they’re able to look beyond and start looking at life and career goals and ways to further yourself,” Fleischer said.
To Our House’s next major fundraiser is its Shelterfest, which is a concert held at Sinkland Farms in Montgomery County, Fleischer said. That’s set for late summer, he added.