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New fundraiser hopes to "bridge' gap for homeless

The event, which cost $100 per ticket to attend had valet parking and gourmet food from area restaurants.

TOLEDO, Ohio — A local push happened Thursday night to address homelessness in Toledo. The Be the Bridge event used a unique approach to address a real issue impacting many people.

"We thought the bridge was very symbolic of the people served by the mission. In addition it's just a very cool, urban vibe which is just very trendy and hot right now," event chair Barrie Howell said.

The event, which cost $100 per ticket to attend had valet parking, gourmet food from area restaurants like the Chop House and The Blarney along with speeches from the Mayor and people who work for the mission.

"We only exist because of the support and the benefactors of Toledo. We are not a governmental agency we don't receive any state or federal funding," President of Cherry Street Mission Ann Ebbert said.

The mission's goal is to not only give someone a place to stay, but help educate them and connect them with the right resources to live a successful life.

"That next step might be education, that next step might be health and human services type services the need, that next step might be legal services," Ebbert said.

Those services are part of the literal and figurative symbolism of the bridge.

"That helps the homeless and the homeless sleep under this bridge, so that alone has the emotion for this whole fundraiser," event chair Karyn Hajjar said.

Right now, Ebbert said numbers at the mission have been pretty stable, but they will see spikes with weather.

"When it becomes cold or particularly how, like you said, we just went through 90 degree weather, people have that safe space to come in and either get cool or get warm and also talk to one of our advocates to say 'what's the next step in my life?'" Ebbert said.