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Merrill Dealership Raises Money For Homeless Shelter

MERRILL, WI (WSAU) -- Breaman Merrill Ford used a unique fundraiser to help raise awareness for the city's newest homeless shelter.

Every test drive for the Month of December led to a $40 donation to the facility that many may not have been aware of, according to General Manager David Breaman.

On Monday, Breaman presented the group with a check for $10,800.

"They need volunteers, they need people to know that it's here before somebody can say 'hey, I want to go volunteer there,'" said Breaman. "That was the thought process, let's get the word out and also help."

He adds because of the newness of the facility and the fact that some may not be aware of it, they decided to publicize the promotion. That publicity was worth just as much, if not more, than the money according to Merrill Community Homeless Center President Mike Ravn. "The most critical challenge right now that's preventing the opening the center is getting adequate staff and volunteer help," said Ravn "It will be open 24-hours, seven days a week. We have some oddball shift needs, to date, we haven't been able to get that quite filled. When we are staffed properly, we will open."

That includes both paid and volunteer staff The need for the center comes from a recent study which showed over 250 people in Merrill were experiencing some form of homelessness. With no current shelter operating in the city to provide services, Ravn says many were sent to places like Wausau or Tomahawk. "If those facilities were filled, then we had arrangements to put homeless people up in some hotels."

Ravn says the check will be used to help pay off construction costs from the remodeling of their building with the remainder going toward general operating expenses in 2019. "I'm just most appreciative of the Merrill community and Breaman Ford because they've helped get this from a theoretical project into a real plan. I'm most grateful for that," added Ravn. All told there were 270 qualifying test drives taken by potential Breaman customers in the month of December.

Ravn says anyone else who would like to help get the facility up and running can contact him directly at merrillcommunityhomelesscenter@gmail.com.

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