Shelter Sunday preparing to collect for fundraiser this weekend

  • Volunteers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst gather to plan for Shelter Sunday last October. Gazette file photo

Staff Writer
Saturday, October 14, 2017

Door-to-door fundraising solicitations and collection sites to bring in money for programs that benefit individuals and families who are homeless will be held in Northampton and Amherst Sunday.

The annual Shelter Sunday event is in its 26th year in Northampton and 28th year in Amherst. In addition to helping homeless individuals, money from the fundraiser helps those at risk of losing their homes and are in need of food.

“We really appreciate the generosity of this community,” said Anne White, communications and development specialist for ServiceNet, which oversees the effort in Northampton, Florence and Leeds. “Every year the community comes through for us.”

“We’re expecting a good year,” said Jim Lumley, chairman of the Shelter Sunday board in Amherst. “A lot of people are aware, whether it’s the economy or other issues, that there are a lot of people in need.”

The Shelter Sunday Coalition in Northampton will reach people mostly through direct mailings to all households and nine collection sites, including the Northampton Recycling Center on Locust Street on Saturday, and other locations, such as Stop & Shop and Dave’s Soda & Pet City, on Sunday. There will also be limited visits to homes throughout the city by Shelter Sunday ambassadors.

Benefiting agencies are ServiceNet, which runs the Grove Street Inn, an emergency shelter for up to 24 men and women year-round, and the Interfaith Emergency Shelter, for 26 individuals during the winter months, the MANNA Soup Kitchen, which provides regular community meals, and the Single Room Occupancy Project, which offers housing stabilization, food security and improved physical and mental health.

The aim is to collect at least $60,000, White said.

“We’re really hoping to hit that because it will make a difference to organizations whose mission is to feed and house people,” White said.

White said volunteers should contact Pauline Marney at 584-3398 or pmarn8@comcast.net to schedule times to be at collection site.

In Amherst, more than 300 volunteers, made up largely of University of Massachusetts students, will begin their day midmorning at the Fine Arts Center and then fan out throughout Amherst, Lumley said. People will also be stationed at Atkins Farms Country Market in South Amherst and the Stop & Shop in Hadley.

The money collected will support three agencies, including Not Bread Alone, a program of the Center for Human Development housed at the First Congregational Church, Craig’s Doors: A Home Association Inc., which runs the homeless shelter, a support-service trailer and a Wednesday community breakfast, and Amherst Community Connections, which provides information, referrals and financial assistance to those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

Lumley said anyone interested in volunteering is welcome to stop by the Fine Arts Center before noon.

People can also donate online at www.northamptonsheltersunday.org or www.sheltersunday.com

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.