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Communities that KARE: Small Sums

A program in Saint Paul uses a unique approach to get Minnesotans back to work.

SAINT PAUL, Minnesota — When people who are homeless get an opportunity to get back to work, there are sometimes road blocks that can prevent them from starting. 

That's where Small Sums is making a large impact.

"Often they'll get the job offer and realize they need something like a uniform, or steel toed boots or no slip shoes or a bus pass for reliable way to get to work," said Naomi Sadighi, the organization's Executive Director.

She says Small Sums provides work related essentials at no cost.

"We're making sure that our clients aren't losing opportunities they need," explained Sadighi.

Small Sums is able to do that by grants, fundraisers, donations, and big sales.

"We actually buy inventory ourselves. We work really hard to get discounted products from different vendors. For example, if a client needed a specific tool, we could go grab that for them at Menards and we have ways of getting discounts," said Sadighi.

And when the pandemic started to put people's livelihoods in jeopardy, Small Sums took action.

The organization started the "Keep Your Place" program, where those who are getting new jobs and are finding it difficult to pay rent, can get the extra items to start fresh.

"Let's say you worked in the restaurant industry for your entire career and you're starting over. Let's let's say in construction, do you have all of the tools and the uniform and the jackets and everything you need to start that job? So we'll help you get there," explained Sadighi.

The Small Sums offices are located at the corner of University Avenue and Snelling Avenue in St. Paul.