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A new exhibit features photos taken by homeless youth

The show will help raise money for people experiencing homelessness.

An exhibit featuring photos taken by homeless youth is coming to St. Paul, and will help raise money to support those experiencing homelessness.

For the exhibit – called "Mile in My Socks" – the Minneapolis-based sock company Hippy Feet gave 13 homeless or previously homeless people a disposable camera and had them take pictures of their everyday life, a news release says.

There will be 30-plus photographs in the exhibit, and they'll be available for purchase during the event. It's being held at Lake Monster Brewing in St. Paul on Thursday, July 27, at 4:30 p.m.

"We have a number of photos that stand out and provoke thought and emotion," Michael Mader, founder of Hippy Feet, told GoMN. "One of the photos that comes to mind is an image of one of our youth participants standing in downtown Minneapolis. The photo captures raw human emotion. There is a look of concern and exhaustion on this young man's face and it seemingly allows the viewer to truly connect with this young man. For a brief moment, you can feel his pain." 

Mader said they had the photographers, who range in age from 16-25, write a journal about the photographs, and why they wanted to share the images with someone who could possibly help them. He called the journals "captivating" and said they offer a look at the lives of the individual photographers.

In one of the journals, a 25-year-old took a picture of a "dead end" sign (see the photo above), and explained how many times in his life he's felt like he's come to a dead end. 

But he's learned there's always a different path.

If you want to go

Tickets to the event are $35 or $45 for VIP (buy them here). A ticket includes a pair of Hippy Feet socks, a beer, food, and a chance to win signed Minnesota Wild gear. Those who buy VIP tickets will also get a T-shirt.

All sales from tickets go to benefit YouthLink MN and Elpis Enterprises. This event kicks off a new partnership between these organizations and Hippy Feet.

The photographers who participated were given $100 after they returned the camera full of photos, and 30 percent of proceeds from the photo sales will go directly to the photographer. The other 70 percent will go toward Elpis and Youth Link.

You can find out more about the event here.

More about Hippy Feet

Hippy Feet is a company that donates a pair of socks to a local homeless shelter for every pair it sells (you'll be able to buy socks at the event).

Mader decided to start the company after he suffered a traumatic brain injury falling off his longboard in October 2015. He told GoMN that during his recovery, he learned socks are the most requested – but least donated – clothing item at homeless shelters.

"As an avid sock wearer myself, I saw this as an opportunity to not only pursue something that I was passionate about, but an opportunity to give back to those less fortunate and to make a real life change in the immediate world around me," he told GoMN.

Mader said Hippy Feet has employed 20 people – mainly youth experiencing homelessness – with the goal of providing supplementary income or quick cash for people to help with their day-to-day needs, like to buy food, diapers and hygiene products.

Homelessness in Minnesota

Homelessness in Minnesota is going down, according to the most recent Wilder Research study. In 2015, the organization counted 9,312 homeless adults, youth and kids on a single night – down 9 percent from 2012.

Young people age 24 and under are the most likely to be homeless in Minnesota, Wilder Research says. Last year, 1,463 "unaccompanied youth" were counted on a single night.

But the number of young people actually experiencing homelessness is higher, with Wilder Research giving a "conservative" estimate of more like 6,000 youth in the state.

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