Chambersburg's Cold Weather Drop-in Shelter a community service

December 22, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • The men's sleeping quarters at the Cold Weather Shelter in Chambersburg, Pa., features plenty of warm beds.
By Jennifer Fitch

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — As temperatures drop this winter, a Franklin County, Pa., organization is working to provide a place for the county’s homeless to spend the night.

Chambersburg’s Cold Weather Drop-in Shelter opened Dec. 1 and will remain open through April 1. It is averaging 15 men and women each night.

The shelter on Loudon Street is open from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. When a person comes in for the first time, he or she is automatically given 14 days to stay. After that, doing three hours of community service earns that person an extra night’s stay.

“Technically, if they’re doing enough community service, they can stay all winter,” shelter manager Craig Newcomer said.

Community service recently completed by the shelter’s residents includes cleaning a local library’s windows, cooking and cleaning at The Salvation Army, cleaning churches and picking up litter on the community’s trails. They also must sign up for chores within the shelter and wash their bed linens on a schedule.

Newcomer recently demonstrated how the shelter’s computerized system allows him to track community service. Each shelter guest has a file in the system with his or her picture and information.

Some of the people have fallen on hard times because of alcohol dependency, deaths in the family or child-support issues, Newcomer said. The shelter holds a Bible study three days a week, he said.

The shelter is in its ninth year. It is in a building owned by Maranatha Inc.

Various churches and groups serve meals at 7 p.m. each night, and volunteers stay overnight to supervise guests.

For now, the shelter’s pantry shelves are stocked with breakfast food, hats and gloves, and bedding.

“We’ve been blessed this year with a lot of good donations,” Newcomer said.

What the shelter needs is monetary donations to pay utility bills, he said.

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