To: Lehigh Valley Episcopal Churches
From: Craig Updegrove, St. Andrew's
As you may be aware, several years ago, Bethlehem Area Churches took on a mission, to provide temporary shelter for the homeless during the winter months. This year will be no exception. This letter is to make you aware that this system began again on December 15 and will continue until March 31.
Every night, a host site or two will provide this mission service to the homeless. We not only provide shelter, but we also give them a warm dinner, companionship, play games with them, and watch movies with them. This mission has transformed each congregation and person involved.
To help continue this mission, I ask for your help. On average, a church needs around eight volunteers each night to execute this mission effectively. This puts a lot of volunteer strain on each congregation. I would like to ask if anyone from your congregation would like to assist any of these churches. Volunteer hours are readily available.
Volunteer opportunities vary. We have people that will just cook the meal, serve the meal, stay overnight, serve breakfast, cleanup in the morning, or just sit and talk to our guests. This is truly a transformational mission and is needed by you to help in Bethlehem.
If you would like to help in other ways, you could donate personal care items, clothing, food, or cash donations to help these congregations to defray some of these costs.
If you or anyone in your congregation are interested in volunteering, please contact Craig Updegrove at 484-892-1589 for more details.
On a related matter, see Community must respond to deaths of homeless, an op-ed in The Morning Call, December 17, by Gary Millspaugh, executive director of the Allentown Rescue Mission.
Background on the ministry of Bethlehem churches to the homeless:
Jan. 13-19: Still no room for the homeless in Bethlehem
Jan. 19: Lehigh Valley Episcopal churches help homeless during cold snap
Feb. 5: Finding room for the homeless in Bethlehem
Jan. 13: Trinity Bethlehem organizes churches to shelter homeless people from the cold
March 9: Express-Times editorial
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