By Jo Ann Carpenter
As those of you who know me well or follow me on Facebook are aware, I am a “warm weather girl and hate winter.” But as a child, I went ice skating every night after school on our neighbor’s pond and we went sledding several times a week. I remember having a lot of fun, but I do not recall being cold.
As a young mother, I took my kids skating and sledding. We would come in from the afternoon with the wet snow all over our clothes and gloves and in our boots. I could feel the cold on my children as we took off the layers and then I warmed them up with cocoa by the fire.
We had the choice to go play out in the snow and cold, but many of the people we serve at Refuge of Hope are walking out in the cold to get a hot meal, go to the doctor, or keep an appointment. Some are trying to keep warm in a house without adequate heat and then others are living in doorways or tents!
Some men who have come to stay with us had frostbite from sleeping and walking out in the cold. I cannot even imagine how hopeless you would feel to be homeless compounded by single-digit temperatures and not enough clothes to keep warm.
Sharmane told us she had twenty or more blankets piled up while she was homeless sleeping under a bridge one winter! What?! I do not even want to think about that.
It’s been a cold winter. I personally do not enjoy it at all, and I choose to stay inside my warm office or home, travel in my heated car, and wear layered clothing to avoid being cold. Every time I have to venture outside and the bitter wind hits my face I cringe, knowing people are out there struggling. Yes, some choose to live outside, but others are just trying to get by with what they have.
At Christmas, Refuge of Hope began distributing winter coats, gloves, blankets and warm clothing to help men, women, and children who must brave the elements just to survive as they get around from point A to point B. But kids lose gloves, adults misplace a hat and our supply dwindles. We replenish, but the stores are now stocking Easter dresses!
And winter lingers on… according to a certain groundhog report.
If you see gloves or hats on sale, please contact me so we can purchase what we need to continue to help others. We also have a need for 5X coats for men and larger coats for some of our ladies, so please let me know if you see those out there as well.
It is always warm and welcoming at Refuge of Hope no matter the weather! And we will continue to provide for the needs of hungry and hurting men, women, and children winter, spring, summer, and fall.
But especially this winter, please pray for those who do not have a home, enough food, warm clothing, and maybe losing hope. Pray that as we reach out to meet the physical needs of our guests we can also meet their spiritual needs! In the warm, loving arms of our Savior is where they will find the hope they truly need.