Students solicit donations for homeless organizations on Shelter Sunday

  • Sophomores Hannah Frawley, left, Caitlin Darcy, Isabel Prussman, junior Allie Pannoni and sophomore Julia Krapf, all of Chi Omega at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, give Gerry Weiss, of Craig's Doors board of directors, the donations they collected around town Sunday during the Shelter Sunday fund drive in Amherst. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Money raised by UMass Amherst students for the Shelter Sunday fund drive awaits intake Oct. 15, 2017. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • UMass Amherst students return from collecting donations around town Oct. 15, 2017 to be counted for the Shelter Sunday fund drive, which raises money for those in need. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • UMass Amherst sophomores Meghan Clancy, left, and Libby Farricelli, center, hand in the donations they collected around town Oct. 15, 2017 to be counted for the Shelter Sunday fund drive, which raises money for those in need. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Jim Lumley, co-founder of Craig's Doors and key organizer of the Shelter Sunday fund drive, which raises money for those in need, talks about the effort Oct. 15, 2017 at UMass Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

For the Gazette
Published: 10/15/2017 11:51:54 PM

AMHERST — All over Amherst, hundreds of volunteers knocked on doors Sunday, soliciting money for this year’s Shelter Sunday event.

Contributions are expected to trickle in “for months,” according to Jim Lumley, chairman of Shelter Sunday in Amherst.

“When I grew up here it wasn’t like this, but it’s hard, now, to walk through Amherst and even affluent areas without seeing people in need.” Lumley said. “There’s lots of issues that contribute: drinking, opioid use, sometimes losing a spouse that leads to it.”

Shelter Sunday is an annual fundraising event during which volunteers raise money for homeless people, people who may become homeless and people in need of food. In Amherst, the event is in its 28th year. Last year, the effort brought in approximately $30,000.

Three entities — Craig’s Doors, Not Bread Alone and Amherst Community Connections — organize the event and share any money collected. Craig’s Doors operates Craig’s Place homeless shelter at the First Baptist Church, 434 North Pleasant St.; Not Bread Alone cooks meals for the hungry and serves them in the lower level of the First Congregational Church of Amherst at 165 Main St.; and Amherst Community Connections helps homeless people and people in need achieve stability through referrals, case management and advocacy.

Starting at 11 a.m., volunteers, many of them students, arrived at the University of Massachusetts Fine Arts Center and received folders for collecting money, and informational brochures to hand out.

The volunteers were then divided into groups of six and sent to 30 different zones in Amherst to ask for money and raise awareness about helping the homeless. After years of Shelter Sundays, Lumley said, the organizers have honed in on the areas they believe will garner the most success, and volunteers are sent to those areas.

“We really don’t try and hit a particular amount (of money), but the community is very generous. This kind of situation, with young people going out door-to-door and asking for money directly, is successful,” said Lumley, who is also a co-founder of Craig’s Doors.

The heads of the three organizations will convene later in the week to tally money and checks volunteers collected from donors. Volunteers also left brochures at houses with no one home, allowing those who missed their chance to send money at a later date.

While the number of volunteers was about the same as last year, the event was, by all accounts, a success.

“I’d say the majority of people that answered the door donated, so overall it was a success,” said Julia Krapf, a UMass sophomore from Hopkinton.

Krapf was one of several students from the UMass chapter of Chi Omega, a women’s organization with a focus on philanthropy, who volunteered. Other student-led organizations at the event included the Sigma Delta Tau sorority, which had 40 volunteers collecting money for the homeless on Sunday.

“Collectively, we definitely did pretty good,” said Katherine Polanco, a UMass junior and one of the 40 Sigma Delta Tau volunteers.

The Shelter Sunday organizers, the co-directors of Craig’s Place, Rachel Weiss and Jade Lovett, and many volunteers all said the event has been well received by the Amherst community.

“We had to leave a lot of brochures, but we did have one lady who was pulling out of her driveway and said, ‘I look forward to Shelter Sunday every year,’ and gave us $20 right on the spot,” Fran Minieri, a UMass senior from New Jersey, said.

The money goes directly toward the three organizations’ programs and helps them provide people in need anything from job-hunting help, medical attention and meals to counseling. Any extra money goes toward the organizations’ operating costs.

“The money goes to serving the shelters. The money is never left over at the end of the year,” Lumley said.

In Northampton, the nonprofit ServiceNet also organized a Shelter Sunday event, and mailed solicitations directly to households. The Northampton Shelter Sunday event did also include a limited amount of visits to homes by volunteers, with hopes of raising $60,000 through mailings and door-to-door collections.

ServiceNet runs the Grove Street Inn and Interfaith Emergency Shelter homeless shelters, the MANNA Soup Kitchen and the Single Room Occupancy Project, which helps those in need stabilize their housing situations, provides food security and physical and mental health services.

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