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Volunteers to collect funds to benefit those in need in Amherst Sunday

The 24th Annual Shelter Sunday Amherst, organized by the Amherst Friends for the Homeless, encourages people to contribute to organizations that provide people with assistance for clothing, food and shelter.

“This event brings the community together with a shared goal of helping our neighbors to get basic needs met,” said Aaron Bousel, president of Amherst Friends for the Homeless, in a statement.

Last year, $33,000 was collected that went to several agencies. This year the money, which will be distributed around Thanksgiving, is expected to go to organizations in Amherst, such as the Amherst Survival Center, Not Bread Alone soup kitchen and Craig’s Place homeless shelter, and in Northampton, including the Grove Street Inn, the Hampshire County Interfaith Shelter and Safe Passage.

College students will make up the core of volunteers, including many who live in fraternities and sororities. The Office of Fraternities and Sororities at UMass is a partner in the effort.

Other students who take part are involved in the Boltwood Project, a community service learning program.

“For our student volunteers, it’s a great way to engage with residents and to make a difference,” Bousel said. “It can be easy to forget that a lot of people are struggling out there, and this is a way to remember and to help.”

Community volunteers are also welcome to join members of local faith communities already signed up to participate. They can go to the UMass Fine Arts Center, where the routes begin, at noon to get instructions.

Collections will also be made at Atkins Farms Country Market on West Street in South Amherst and at Super Stop & Shop on Route 9 in Hadley.

Organizers anticipate that up to half of the money will be collected that day, with the remainder brought in through mail or online donations.

Donations can be mailed to Shelter Sunday Amherst, P.O. Box 1071, Amherst, MA 01004, or made by PayPal online at sheltersunday.org.

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