Shelter Sunday benefits programs aiding homeless

For the Gazette
Published: 10/11/2016 2:24:26 AM

People in Amherst and Northampton will have the opportunity to help those who are less fortunate, by volunteering or donating on Shelter Sunday which this year is Oct. 16.

Shelter Sunday is a fundraiser when volunteers go door-to-door in their neighborhoods, raising awareness and money for area programs that provide a warm place to stay for people who otherwise would be out in the cold.

Northampton

Volunteers will visit neighborhoods throughout Northampton, Florence, and Leeds on Sunday to raise money for five area programs that provide aid to less fortunate individuals and families.

Volunteers will meet outside Memorial Hall at 240 Main St. in Northampton at 10 a.m., and will be in their assigned neighborhoods until around 4 p.m.

This is the fundraiser’s 25th anniversary.

“We want as many people as possible to participate in this. It’s about many small gifts making up the whole,” said Amy Swisher, a member of the Shelter Sunday Coalition.

The coalition is made up of the Grove Street Inn, Interfaith Emergency Shelter, MANNA Soup Kitchen, Grace House and the Single Occupancy Project.

Last year’s fundraiser collected $50,000 for these programs, and this year the coalition has a $75,000 goal.

The coalition sponsored a mailing to households in Northampton, Florence, and Leeds for the first time this year to help reach that target.

“I really think that holding the bar higher and using the mailing to get to more households will help the campaign,” said Anne White, another coalition representative. “I just think that setting an ambitious goal always helps.”

In years past, Swisher said there usually have been between 30 and 50 volunteers. This year the coalition still encourages people to sign up and knock on doors to help raise money for neighbors in need.

For more information, visit https://northamptonsheltersunday.org.

Amherst

Student and community volunteers will meet at the University of Massachusetts Fine Arts Center at 11 a.m. before they head to their canvassing routes, and additional volunteers will be stationed outside Atkins Farms Country Market and Stop & Shop.

Participants will raise money for the local homeless shelter, emergency housing and survival services.

Last year’s Shelter Sunday in Amherst had about 300 volunteers and raised just under $30,000, according to Marion Rosenau of Craig’s Doors, which operates a shelter from Nov. 1 to April 30.

She said they are hoping for similar results this year.

“It raises money for critical services for people who need it, and it also raises awareness in the community. It’s a good opportunity — I like that it’s mostly young people volunteering, I think it’s encouraging that they’re willing to do this and cheerfully go door to door,” she said.

Rosenau said that the majority of volunteers are usually UMass students.

She said that Shelter Sunday began in Amherst in 1989, and has become an annual tradition at this time of year.

“The fall is starting. It’s the time to think about the people in our community who aren’t as fortunate and don’t have the food and shelter that we may have,” she said.

Three agencies benefit from Shelter Sunday: the seasonal shelter run by Craig’s Doors, the free meals program Not Bread Alone, and Amherst Community Connections, which provides everything from referrals to financial assistance to people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

“I think the agencies would all say that there are literally times that they save people’s lives,” said Rosenau when explaining the importance of Shelter Sunday.

For more information on the event, visit http://www.sheltersunday.com/.


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