People who face homelessness in the area no longer have to be unsure about what to expect when they walk into one of HELP’s “A Night’s Welcome” shelters.
Members of Next Level Church have rallied to buy new blankets at the Hampton organization, and while it may not seem like much, Matthew Stern, executive director for HELP, said “it’s more dignifying when everyone can expect the same quality and experience when they come into a shelter.”
“We just had a hodgepodge of blankets that felt like ‘homeless blankets,'” he said. “They were miss-matched, some were heavy, and not every guest would get the same size.”
The church raised enough to buy 250 twin-sized hotel quality blankets, or enough for 125 people while the others could be washed in the laundry, Stern said.
Scott Rutter, executive pastor at the Yorktown based church, said giving to A Night’s Welcome was part of the congregation’s monthly “Make a Difference” initiative to partner with organizations in the community who they feel are making an impact.
“God’s love has transformed us for the better and so we want to take that love out into our community and transform it for the better,” he said. “Our strategy has always been to find the organizations that are doing amazing work in the community already and come alongside them to say ‘how can we help you?'”
In December, the nondenominational church collaborated with HELP, setting a goal to raise $3,500 for the blankets but surpassed their expectations when the congregation of about 400 raised more than $4,000.
For their January and February initiatives, Rutter said they’re leveraging their people and resources to provide meals and volunteers for those facing homelessness in a partnership with LINK of Hampton Roads and AllGenerations Church in Newport News.
Through the “21 coldest weeks of the year,” HELP’s A Night’s Welcome program partners with 21 local churches to coordinate a place to sleep for those who are in need of somewhere warm for the night, according to the website.
“With the help of many other congregations and organizations, [HELP also provides] two hot meals, toiletries, and community for individuals and families that find themselves stuck on the street,” they said.
Last winter, the organization provided more than 6,600 bed nights of shelter for more than 340 people around the Hampton area.
With new blankets and recently purchased sleeping mats and sheets, Stern said A Night’s Welcome is set with bedding but if anyone would like to help, the organization is typically low on undershirts and underwear in all sizes for both men and women.
Cleaning supplies like disinfecting wipes and kitchen-sized trash bags for guests to save bedding when they expect to return to the shelter for another night can also be dropped off at 1320 LaSalle Ave., or 329 Buckroe Ave.
Learn more about getting involved in Next Level Church’s “Make a Difference” initiative by clicking here.