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Fifth Annual 'Mardi Bras' Fundraiser Helps Homeless, Impoverished Women, Teens

Mardi Gras donations Mardi Bra fundraiser at the Salt Lake City Mission in Utah.
Joe Vazquez said the mission receives the most donations between Thanksgiving and Easter, with the Mardi Bra fundraiser near then end.

According to Family Promise Salt Lake, two-thirds of the homeless in Utah live in Salt Lake County. Joe Vazquez has been with Salt Lake City Mission for six years, but he’s worked with rescue missions for 23. He said while the reported numbers of the homeless in Utah are dropping, the number of individuals and families in poverty in the state is rising.

“The face of homelessness has been changing over the last, you know, 20 years and especially over the last 10 years,” Vazquez said.

And when it comes to homeless demographics, women and teens are the fastest-growing group.

Five years ago, Vazquez was approached by an organization in New York about the increasing need for feminine hygiene products for homeless and impoverished women. And that’s how the mission’s “Mardi Bra” fundraiser was born.

“You know, for a lot of ladies, it totally resonated," he said. "Women — this resonates for them, on the needs for women that are struggling on the edge of poverty, that have to get things that men don't have to get and including undergarments.”

The Mardi Bra fundraiser to collect items like bras and underwear, hygiene products, even makeup and toiletries, goes through the February — and items donated don’t even have to be purple, gold or green.

More information on the event and how to donate is available here