CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - According to the United Way of East Central Iowa, nearly 40 percent of children make up the homeless population in Linn County.
That's just one statistic you'll find in a new exhibit at the downtown Cedar Rapids Public Library.
The artwork in the gallery highlights the faces of homeless in the community and it's called "Homelessness in a New Light, Stories of Resilience."
Iowa BIG partnered with Willis Dady Homeless Services to give people an inside look on what it likes to be homeless and for the next 6 months, visitors will have a chance to check out their work.
They say most of the artists who created the pictures and poems on the wall are homeless.
Iowa BIG and Willis Dady interviewed over 20 people who are homeless for the exhibit. They collected artwork and writing samples on what people are going through while living in shelters and on the street.
Sophia Lange, a senior at Linn Mar High School and member of Iowa BIG, says she wanted to use the exhibit as a way for people to share their stories.
"I really understood them at a deeper level and I found that they're just people. They're not a homeless person, they're a person who just doesn't have a home kind of thing," says Lange.
Lange says while she worked on this project she recalls one man who shared his story on what it's like to be homeless.
"He shared his childhood experiences that he had went through. It just touched me to have a better gratitude for the life that I do have. I think during the interviews that's what I learned most is to have gratitude," says Lange.
Iowa BIG says they're also accepting donations like hats, scarves, and gloves that people can drop off at the library.
The items will go to people in need of warm clothing for the winter.
The Homeless in a New Light exhibit is free and open to the public beginning Thursday, November 1, 2018, at 6 p.m. on the third floor of the downtown Cedar Rapids Public Library.