Houserville shelter to hold item drive to benefit homeless

About 20 people use the local homeless shelter every night, and Renee Ford has organized a drive to collect some of their most needed items.

It is the first item drive for the homeless that the church has organized, and Ford said it stems from a passion to help make the lives of people in the community better.

“The people in Happy Valley are incredibly compassionate, generous and eager to help their neighbors. We don’t know how much awareness there is about the reality of homelessness in State College, but decided that our first outreach effort would be to help our homeless during the coldest month of the year,” said Ford, pastor at Houserville UMC House of Hope.

Ford reached out to Karry Carr, a site manager for Out of the Cold: Centre County, the local rotating homeless shelter, to gather additional input on what items are most frequently needed.

Some of those items are feminine hygiene products, backpacks, gift certificates, food and clothes. There are five drop-off locations that will accept donations until Jan. 21. Gift certificates, which could be between $5 to $10, are particularly welcome, Ford said, because they would allow those in need to get a hot drink or meal in a warm place.

“I’m constantly amazed at our community,” Carr said. “Our budgets are minimal, and people always donate. Most communities don’t have that.”

Care package assembly will begin at 1 p.m. Jan. 21 at Houserville UMC House of Hope, 1320 Houserville Road.

Items will be distributed in partnership with Hearts for the Homeless and Out of the Cold: Centre County.

“(Carr) is very involved with leading and volunteering for Hearts for the Homeless and Out of the Cold, so it was a natural fit,” Ford said.

While the care package assembly represents the final day of the drive, Ford said many of the requested items will be needed in the future.

“These items are needed on an ongoing basis, so we can just extend the love. The more we receive, the more we can help,” she said.

Drop-off locations

▪ Grays United Methodist Church: 9-10 a.m. Sunday; 5687 Buffalo Run Road, Port Matilda

▪ Houserville UMC House of Hope: 7-9 a.m. Tuesday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday, noon-1 p.m. Jan. 21; 1320 Houserville Road

▪ Penn State’s Business Building, room 382: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday

▪ Webster’s Bookstore Cafe: 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday; 133 E. Beaver Ave., State College

▪ Woodycrest UMC: 9 a.m.-noon Sunday; 219 W. Clearview Ave.