300 Sleeping Bags Needed for Homeless Duluth Residents

Mother of Man Recently Killed Organizes Drive To Collect Supplies


As the days get colder, there’s a call to help the Duluth area’s homeless.

Advocates estimate there are about 700 homeless in the city. Now a local woman is organizing a push to collect 300 sets of sleeping bags and tents this week.

Ann Esala’s son Aaron Esala, 26, died last month after his motorcycle was hit by a drunk driver in California. The crash happened just four days after his wedding in the Northland.

Aaron Esala was a U.S. Navy Petty Officer who is remembered for his big personality and relationships with his friends and family.

To deal with her grief, Ann looked for a way to give back to the community after they supported her in the time after her son’s tragic death.

“This has tested my faith but it’s also made my faith stronger,” said Ann. “Which I did not think would happen if something like this happened in our lives. I was praying for a reason and purpose to get out of bed the next day, day after day and a facebook friend posted a picture of the homeless camp in the woods.”

Ann says the picture guided her to her purpose, helping the local homeless population. She hopes to help her friend Deb Holman collect supplies for the homeless to prepare for the elements. Holman says people will be sleeping outside because local shelters, including CHUM are already full of people, and there’s a lot of red tape for others to access local resources.

Esala has already collected a car load of supplies just from people she knows. Now she’s hoping to reach others with Aaron’s story and her wish to create something good out of this.

“I thought if anything happened like this I would give up, but I’m not,” said Ann. “It’s an amazing thing. I wanted to do this in Aaron’s memory, in honor of Aaron and Amber in their marriage. It’s my way of giving back what’s been given to us.”

Starting Monday, Oct. 15th there will be a drop-off for sleeping bags and tents at Hermantown Community Church at 4880 Maple Grove Road. Monday and Tuesday the hours will be 9-4. The hours on Wednesday will be 9-8. The goal is to collect 300 sleeping bags and tents.

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