Several community leaders camped out Thursday night at First United Methodist Church to raise awareness of homelessness. The volunteers also collected linens and personal care items for the upcoming Warming Center project and brought attention to the need for volunteers to help with the Point in Time Count.
Here are photos by James Lewis.
The community was invited to come out to support the sleep-out participants from 6-7 p.m. Thursday (January 15), and local homeless providers were expected to talk about their agencies and what they are providing to homeless individuals in the community.
Organizers had asked for donations of linens and personal care items, including gas cards, towels (new or used), blankets (new or used), underwear (new), pillows (new), new toothbrushes and toothpaste, and twin sheets (new or used).
Those who chose to sleep outside on one of the coldest nights of the year as part of the Cold Hands-Warm Hearts project included representatives of Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church, Robertsville Baptist Church, First Christian Church, First United Methodist Church, and Habitat for Humanity of Anderson County.
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.
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 Cold Hands-Warm Hearts included 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.
Copyright 2015 Oak Ridge Today. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.