Oct 9th 2013

Truth Ministries able to keep shelter open, thanks in part to child

One little girl’s kindness has inspired others to help a homeless shelter on the verge of closing.

A month ago, the future appeared bleak for Truth Ministries Spokane, a shelter for single men at 1910 E. Sprague Ave. Owner and director Marty McKinney announced the shelter would close Oct. 1 if it didn’t raise about $5,000 for bills and insurance payments.

Then the donations started rolling in, including a plastic bag with $32 in change and small bills from Gianna Zangar, an 8-year-old who volunteers at the shelter with her mom and grandparents.

After a newspaper report about the shelter’s struggles, Gianna’s mother, Nicolle Blackburn, has received letters and thank-you cards with matching donations of $32.

“They were so inspired by what she did they’re still matching her donations,” Blackburn said. “I thought it was pretty spectacular.”

Even Gianna’s friends at school have handed her coins to donate to the shelter from their “fruit snack money,” Blackburn said.

So far, Gianna’s gift has inspired donations of $462.

“The guys were floored,” Blackburn said. “They couldn’t believe how much she’s brought in to donate.”

Julie McKinney, Marty McKinney’s wife and partner at Truth Ministries, said since The Spokesman-Review story ran, they’ve received more than $8,000 in donations and can keep the shelter open through October and probably November.

Julie McKinney added that the shelter still needs $60,000 a year to operate annually and needs people to pledge donations each month, not just when they’re desperate for help.

“It’s all great. I’m so blessed,” McKinney said. “But I don’t want people to think that’s it.”

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