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He'll sacrifice his holiday to help care for the homeless

December 13, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: This is one in a series of stories running on the 12 days before Christmas to recognize people who make the holidays better for others.

While others celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with family and friends, Linn Davison Jr. will be at the REACH Cold Weather Shelter as one of a number of volunteers trying to help make the holidays a little brighter for the lonely and the homeless.

"It's difficult but rewarding," Davison said. "We here at Grace United Methodist Church feel that it is a biblical requirement."

Davison's church, at Church and Winter streets in Hagerstown, agreed to host the shelter Dec. 14-28 with assistance from Hebron Mennonite. This is the first year Grace has agreed to take the weeks that include Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, Davison will work with fellow volunteers Ken Peters and Ray Reedy. As they do on all nonholiday evenings, they will arrive to sign people in when the shelter opens at 7 p.m.

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"We usually leave about 10 p.m. when the doors are closed for the night," Peters said.

Davison and others will return at 5 a.m. on Christmas to fix and serve breakfast, as they do each morning of the two-week stint at Grace.

"Normally, everyone is out by 7 in the morning. But on Christmas Day, the guests will be invited to stay here all day," Peters said. "There will be special activities with other churches coming in to help."

The shelter, which rotates among churches from October to April, is a project of the Religious Efforts to Assist and Care for the Homeless.

"I volunteered at the shelter in March 2002 and learned the ropes," Davison said. "Then I was coordinator last March when the shelter was back at Grace."

Born and raised in Hagerstown, Davison, 42, came to Grace 12 years ago after shopping for a church.

"Everything just fell into place when I came to Grace," said Davison, who works at the U.S. Treasury Department in Martinsburg, W.Va.

Grace, served by the Rev. Robert Barton, first got involved with the shelter by making lunches four years ago. Because of its central location and size, the church soon was lending its building as a shelter site.

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