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More staying in REACH shelters

As temperatures continue to stay below the freezing mark, more people are taking advantage of the shelters provided by severa

As temperatures continue to stay below the freezing mark, more people are taking advantage of the shelters provided by severa

January 24, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

When the schedule is made up each year for the REACH Cold Weather Shelter season, larger churches are earmarked to host the shelter in January and February, when temperatures tend to dip, REACH director Terri Baker said.

That practice proved its value this year, when the number of shelter patrons soared as the thermometer has stayed well below the freezing mark for days at a time, officials said.

"The shelter is currently being hosted by Trinity Lutheran Church, 15 Randolph Ave., which is one of our larger sites," Baker said.

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The shelter recently has served from 43 to 61 people per night, Baker said. The average for the season as of Jan. 4 was 32 people per night.

"We will be at Trinity until Feb. 9 and then we move to St. John's Lutheran at 141 S. Potomac St. until Feb. 23," Baker said.

Christ's Reformed Church at 130 W. Franklin St. will host the shelter from Feb. 23 to March 9.

Baker said she hopes the frigid weather will be over by then.

The biggest problem faced by the shelter is that it is only open and available to the homeless from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., Baker said.

"Many of our shelter patrons have day jobs that they go to when the shelter closes but others have few places to go to stay warm," Baker said.

Money is tight right now and government funds are thin, Baker said. She said she wishes someone would help provide a daytime location where people could go on really cold days.

In the meantime REACH, an acronym for Religious Efforts to Assist and Care for the Homeless, is asking people to donate items to help ease the cold weather woes experienced by some homeless in the community.

Needed are men's winter gloves/work gloves, men's warm knit hats, men's thermal underwear, men's heavy or white socks, lip balm, coffee, sugar, powdered creamer, hot chocolate mix, dry beverage mix, Oodles of Noodles in cups, 8 oz. styrofoam cups, Styrofoam bowls, large plates, small plates, napkins, plastic forks and spoons, washable blankets, and bath towels.

The supplies can be taken to REACH Headquarters at Hebron Mennonite Church, 13315 Highlane Street near Longmeadow Road, Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or to Trinity Lutheran Church, 15 Randolph Ave., at the alley door after 7 p.m. through Feb. 9, Baker said.

Monetary donations or Sam's Club/Wal-Mart gift cards for staff to buy shelter supplies can be sent to REACH Caregivers, P.O. Box 2196, Hagerstown, MD 21742-2196.

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