Shelter Sunday benefits programs aiding homeless

For the Bulletin
Friday, October 14, 2016

Amherst residents will have the opportunity to help those who are less fortunate by volunteering or donating on Shelter Sunday this weekend.

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.

In Amherst, student and community volunteers will meet Sunday 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/.