Did you know some of the most common views on homelessness and hunger are misconceptions?

Things such as “It only affects middle-aged men” or “homeless people need to ‘just get a job,’ ” or “people are homeless by choice.”

None of these is true, say the experts at the Sojourner Truth House in Gary.

The mission of Sojourner Truth House, a ministry of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, is to be a ministry of hope and help for homeless and at-risk women and their children. Through hospitality, advocacy, integrative services and collaboration, participants improve their quality of life and that of the community in a safe, trusting environment. The organization accomplishes this by providing holistic case management services, offering entrepreneurial and therapeutic programs, operating the largest food pantry in Lake County and providing housing assistance.

To help Sojourner Truth House fund programs that aid those in need, Strack & Van Til’s next Checkout Challenge Round Up will benefit the charitable organization. From May 29-June 4, customers across the Region can choose to round up their purchase to the nearest dollar when shopping at their local Strack & Van Til store. These extra funds will be donated to Sojourner Truth House.

The Check Out Challenge continues Strack & Van Til’s more than 93-year tradition of philanthropy by raising funds to help organizations in the communities they serve throughout Northwest Indiana. The grocery store chain is proud to say that in 2022, its program raised a total of $574,110.

In response to the false perceptions of homelessness, the Sojourner Truth website notes that the fastest growing segments of the homeless population are women and families with children. Their lack of clean clothes, showers, transportation, permanent address and phone number makes finding and keeping a job incredibly difficult. And people don’t choose to be homeless: They may lose jobs, flee domestic violence or struggle with mental illness or trauma, so they are no longer able to afford a place to live.

From January through December 2022, Gary-based Sojourner Truth House served an average of 2,281 clients each month, distributed 229,122 pounds of food to 26,355 individuals, provided 9,231 meals (breakfast and lunch) from the kitchen, transported 4,845 clients to and from shelters and other appointments and made 759 visits to clients living in supportive housing, according to Shelley Boyer, MSM, special events coordinator for the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ.

“At Sojourner Truth House, we strive to be a vital catalyst for just transformation in the lives of individuals and families and not let their situations define them. Our long-term goals include fewer women and families experiencing homelessness, and more clients successfully achieving their goals to be self-sufficient with healthy families living in safe, stable homes,” says Executive Director Angela Paul. “STH is very excited about this opportunity that Strack & Van Til has given us. This roundup initiative will assist in our ongoing efforts to serve the community.”

Strack & Van Til President and CEO Jeff Strack credits the success of the Checkout Challenge Round Ups to customer generosity and the commitment of Strack & Van Til employees.

“Giving back to the communities we serve is just naturally a part of Strack & Van Til’s culture. We are very grateful to our customers who contribute to these Round Up campaigns and make a difference in the lives of so many people,” Strack says. “Our customers are the best. They are the ones who give back to the community. Our stores, with the help of our employees, simply provide our customers with an outlet to donate to some of their favorite local organizations.”

Offer your neighbors in need a helping hand. Simply take part in Strack & Van Til’s Checkout Challenge Round Up and support Sojourner Truth House.

For more information on Sojourner Truth House, visit To learn more about Strack & Van Til’s community involvement, visit