This time around the holidays, people are buying gifts for their loved ones, preparing home cooked meals, and booking flight destinations for across the globe, but the holidays are much different for those who don’t have a home, nor a family to go to.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), there are 554,000 homeless people in this country, 193,000 of those are “unsheltered,” meaning that they are living on the streets. In Tarrant County alone there are 1,924 men, women, and children who spend their holidays without a home. The Presbyterian Night Shelter located in Fort Worth, along with their partner shelters, make it their goal to help the homeless live a little bit easier.
“The Presbyterian Shelter houses about 380 men, our women’s shelter houses about 190, our women and children’s facility has 40 moms and about 90 [kids],” said Judi Glover, the Developmental Community Engagement Coordinator at True Worth.
Their patriot house, which houses veterans, shelters 32 people. Safe Haven is a shelter for mentally challenged individuals has 22 beds. True Worth place is the day shelter component sees about 250 individuals each day
With this many people coming in and out of the shelters, one can imagine the help they need for the winter months where the nights get longer and the temperatures cooler.
“We’ve been blessed this year to have all our volunteer opportunities filled to serve the holiday season…[with] an average of 30 plus volunteers every single week” Glover shared.
Those who volunteer at the shelters help wrap Christmas presents for the women and children, or serve dinner, which ranges from 20-25 people a night. How the shelters celebrate the holidays, although, really depends on outside resources.
“We allow outside churches and individuals to come in and provide either a meal or entertainment, [and/or] we have donors that provide a special dinner for our guest,” Glovers said.
Since Presbyterian night shelter is a low-barrier shelter, meaning they do not do background checks on the people that come in, they cannot have anyone under the age of 18 volunteer at the homeless shelters. The students of Timber Creek can contribute through donation drives, like Hope for the Holidays, or the Angel Tree created by Student Council. Glover states essential items that are needed, besides socks and underwear, are bars of soap, sunscreen, bug spray, and feminine hygiene products.
It’s no surprise that volunteer positions fill up fast around the holidays, but the need for donations and volunteers does not stop when the tree is taken down and when people return back to another year of work and studies. Whilst it’s important to help those in need during the holidays, it is also important to realize that’s not the only time they need help.
“That’s what makes it difficult, because we’ll have people that will call right now saying they want to volunteer and we got those positions filled, [but] we need help all year long, not just on Thanksgiving day or Christmas. We’re here everyday, so we like to encourage people to volunteer throughout the year,” Glover expressed.