Leapin’ Outreach Center (Leapin’) has been serving the Marion area for over 17 years. Leapin’ is a not-for-profit, faith-based organization in Marion. Since opening, Leapin’ has been staffed entirely by volunteers who work to serve and meet the needs of the less fortunate in Marion County.
“Nearly 18 years ago, God put it on my heart to help individuals and families with their clothing needs. This included, but was not limited to, the homeless population in Marion. As we have identified additional needs, we work to meet them,” said Pat Hensel, director of Leapin’.
Leapin’ currently serves the community by providing free clothing, housewares, bedding, and personal hygiene items that have been donated by the community. They provide toys to children when they have them available, and any other items that are donated. Additionally, Leapin’ offers a location for the homeless population in Marion to shower.
“When you experience the joy of a child who receives a warm coat or a pair of shoes, or the grateful appreciation of a single parent struggling to provide for their family, the gratitude of a homeless person who can get a hot shower or a sleeping bag, no words can express the warm feelings that come from helping those in need whatever way we can,” Hensel said of their inspiration to keep serving the community.
Leapin’ leadership and volunteers believe it’s important for Marion to be active and involved in their community. Their foundation in faith plays a large part in the contribution of their organization.
“The Bible says that if we see someone in need then we are to help. Our mission and goal at Leapin’ is to continue to identify and work to help those who need help, however, we can. It becomes a blessing for everyone,” said Hensel.
Leapin’ continues to see an increase in need in Marion.
“We need donations, especially school-age children’s clothing, bedding, towels and washcloths, new socks and underwear. As we continue to serve Marion, we have seen a considerable increase in the homeless population, and in an effort to meet this growing need, we are currently constructing a homeless shelter with up to 100 beds on the second floor of our building. There is a lot of work to be done and opportunities to get involved, serve or donate in so many ways,” Hensel said of changes they are making.
The process of updating their building, the old Marion Star building, to a shelter, is a great way to
become involved with Leapin’ and the Marion community. This shelter will serve both men and women. Through the process, Leapin’ has partnered with local churches that have put up drywall and painted rooms. In turn, these churches will have naming rights to the rooms they have helped remodel.
Businesses and other organizations in the community have also pitched in, participating in workdays or donating breakfast for volunteers.
“We would love to share more with any groups, organizations, churches, or individuals who would like to serve alongside us at Leapin’ Outreach Center,” Hensel said.
Leapin’ is currently hosting groups to aid the project, and welcoming volunteers with or without experience. Workdays for the shelter are the third Saturday of every month from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Donations are accepted Tuesday evenings and Thursday mornings, and Leapin’ requests donations are not dropped off at their location without a volunteer to accept them. Updates for both donation drop-offs and workdays are posted on their Facebook page.