Canteen Run offers help to some of Champaign-Urbana's neediest


CHAMPAIGN – It's about 8:30 p.m. After two hours mainly spent outside in frigid temperatures, volunteers are ready to call it a night.

The Salvation Army truck they use has just pulled back into the thrift store parking lot on North Market Street when volunteer driver Dan Davies, 56, gets a cell phone call from a Champaign police officer, saying that a 61-year-old woman needs food. As the truck makes a U-turn for the 2-mile trek south, volunteer Karen Krusa fills three bags with food for the woman.
When they arrive, Dan's wife, Barb Davies, 48, the leader of the group, gives the officer a list of local agencies that help the homeless. The woman seems reluctant to stay at a shelter, but police won't let her stay in the underground garage where they found her.
Barb Davies calls a local emergency shelter to see if they will allow the woman to stay there, although it is past their usual cutoff time for evaluations.
As she waits to find out her fate, the woman, who introduces herself as Ann, takes shelter in the warm truck, telling Krusa that she has been homeless for 2 1/2 years. This is her second time on the street.
After getting off the phone, Davies says a shelter employee may have a couch available in her home for the woman to sleep on. The truck drives the woman to the police station to wait until arrangements can be confirmed.
This is the Canteen Run. Two nights a week, a truck parks in front of locations throughout downtown Champaign where low-income and homeless people congregate.

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