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Idahoans consider themselves to be caring people. They say their adherence to traditional values, often rooted in religious faith, urges and requires them to help the needy among us.

People in Canyon County — one of the most conservative counties in a conservative state — just don’t believe that high-cost government programs are the most effective way to help the poor. They see such programs as wasteful, inefficient and subject to easy fraud and abuse.

If you consider yourself as part of this group — and even if you don’t — here’s your chance to put your money where your mouth is. It’s everything you’re on record as supporting.

The Rev. Bill Roscoe, executive director of Boise Rescue Mission Ministries, is trying to get a new homeless shelter built in Nampa. He’s not pandering for government, taxpayer money because he doesn’t want Uncle Sam putting restrictions on how he operates his shelter.

Roscoe has strong Christian beliefs and doesn’t back down from them. In fact, it’s his belief that a devoted following to Christ is the only realistic way people who have struggled in life can find a path to permanent success and fulfillment — people with drug and alcohol addictions, criminal histories, not just those who are down on their luck.

By relying on private donations and grants, Roscoe can make that strong religious element a major, mandatory part of his shelter.

Strong emphasis on Christianity. Avoidance of government entanglements. What more could you ask for?

The current Lighthouse Rescue Mission is 12,500 square feet. It’s stinky, the plumbing is worn out, the walls are cracked, the roof leaks, the electrical system is worn out. We need a new shelter, folks. There’s no avoiding that fact.

The process is underway to build a new one (see story in today’s paper). It would cost somewhere in the vicinity of $2.5 million and be at least twice the size of the current shelter. Fundraising is already under way, but it’s still very early.

This is Canyon County’s chance to show that it can be a staunch advocate of small government and have a big heart at the same time. Talk to your friends, neighbors, pastors, fellow parishioners, employers — and anyone else you can think of — and find out how you can make a new Nampa Lighthouse Rescue Mission a reality.

Our coverage of the homeless

We hope that the series of articles we’ve presented over the past week has helped give you a better ground’s-eye view of what the homeless situation is like here. These people come from all walks of life, from financially stable families that have suddenly lost everything, to alcoholics who have a hard time staying out of trouble, to kids who have deadbeat parents and are just looking for a place to stay the night.

But regardless of how they got there or who they are, they could really use your help. Whether it’s a financial donation, the gift of some extra produce from your summer garden or a little volunteer help, there’s something we can all do. Get involved.

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