On a typical Sunday in Wheeling, those who are in need of a meal head to the House of Hagar for a community dinner.
This past Sunday, the House of Hagar was closed, so Good Stuff Barbeque provided a meal at Youth Services for those in need.
It was also a time to collect donations for the Winter Freeze Shelter, and organizers say the community response has been enormous.
“I will say as far as collecting for the homeless, it’s the biggest donation I’ve ever seen,” said Crystal Bauer, a Registered Nurse who does homeless outreach.
“There’s shoes, coats, socks, shirts, sleeping bags. People brought brand new blankets. Tons of stuff,” added Greg Basil of Good Stuff Barbeque.
The Winter Freeze Shelter is scheduled to open on December 15th and provides a warm place for the homeless to sleep when the weather becomes dangerously cold.
The shelter is operated by Youth Services System and could not function without donations.
They say one of their most-needed items is socks, but they will take anything from coats to tarps and tents. Most of all, they say what the homeless or less fortunate need is kindness and understanding.
“I think people are afraid of homelessness. They don’t know how to respond to it, and I’ll leave you with: if you encounter somebody who is homeless, just look at them and smile and say hello,” said Bauer.
Youth Services is always taking donations for their Winter Freeze Shelter. You can drop them off during their operating hours and visit their website at YouthServicesSystem.org for more information.