Several community leaders will spend the night of Thursday, January 15, sleeping outside at First United Methodist Church in Oak Ridge to raise awareness of homelessness and to collect linens and personal care items for the upcoming Warming Center project and bring attention to the need for volunteers to help with the Point in Time Count.
The community is invited to participate by coming out to support the sleep-out participants from 6-7 p.m. Thursday. There will be a free soup dinner. All community members are invited to attend.
Local homeless providers will be present to talk about their agencies and what they are providing to homeless individuals in our community. Information on the warming center project and the Point in Time Count will also be available.
Organizers are asking that donations of linens and personal care items be brought during that time. They include gas cards, towels (new or used), blankets (new or used), underwear (new), pillows (new), new toothbrushes and toothpaste, and twin sheets (new or used). First United Methodist Church is located at 1350 Oak Ridge Turnpike in Oak Ridge.
Pastors and community members who have chosen to sleep outside on one of the coldest days of the year for the project termed Cold Hands-Warm Hearts will be Ministers Jake Morrill and Tandy Scheffler of the Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church, Pastor Brian Scott of Robertsville Baptist Church, Pastor Steve Sherman of First Christian Church, Pastor Richard Edwards of First United Methodist Church, and Charlotte Bowers, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Anderson County. Other participants will be added to the list.
This year, local churches have partnered with Trinity Out-Reach Center for Hope, or TORCH, to host a Warming Center, an overnight stay location for individuals who are in need of shelter to escape the winter weather. The warming center will be in operation on January 21-January 27. More information on how you can help with the warming center will be available at the Cold Hands-Warm Heart event.
The Point in Time Count is a 24-hour, unduplicated count of the homeless in our community. This year, it will be held on January 22. During a 24-hour period, local volunteers and social service agency staff go into the community to gather information on homeless populations. The count not only measures the needs of the homeless, but also provides direction for future development of services, a press release said. It is an important tool for resource development and planning. Results of the count provide the community with vital information to use in obtaining funding to support programs for the homeless in the county.
In order to prepare for this street count, TORCH will be leading a series of trainings for volunteers to identify and assist this vulnerable population. The next training session will be held on January 20 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in the Community Meeting Room at TORCH, which is located at 320 Robertsville Road, Suite 5, in Oak Ridge.
Sponsors for the Cold Hands-Warm Hearts project include TORCH, Ridgeview, Habitat for Humanity of Anderson County, Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church, First United Methodist Church, Robertsville Baptist Church, and First Christian Church.
For more information on the Cold Hand-Warm Hearts, the Warming Center project, or the Point in Time Count, call TORCH at (865) 318-4788 phone or visit oakridgetorch.org.