(WBRE/WYOU-TV) It may be unusually warm January weekend but there is plenty of winter weather still to come. That’s why a church in Lycoming County is opening its doors to the less fortunate. So those without a home can have to place to go when temperatures drop at night.
Eyewitness News Reporter Morgan Parrish has more on the code blue warming center in Williamsport.
“It’s important because we’re called by our faith to do it. Jesus commanded us to serve the least of those and that’s what we’re trying to do here,” said John Best, Laity Member/First United Methodist Church.
When these lights shine blue, it means the code blue warming center at First United Methodist Church is open for those who need a place to stay warm on a cold winter night.
For the third year in a row, the church is opening its doors for the homeless. Providing a warm, safe place for them to sleep and have something to eat.
It’s part of spreading the love and hope of Jesus Christ.
“Just trying to plant seeds that maybe God can water in these folks. There’s not a lot of difference between those who are coming in as guests and those who are serving as hosts you know we got a break and maybe they didn’t and that can be a very fine line, so we just give thanks to God that we can serve them” said Best.
“Well you know the big challenge in our community is people don’t really know what the face of homelessness looks like and so this is a great ministry of the church and a great way for us to take care of folks that normally wouldn’t have a place to stay when it gets really really cold in the wintertime,” noted Ron Frick, President of Lycoming County United Way.
Doors open from 9 to 10 in the evening where folks can come in and get a cot, blanket, pillow, and storage bag- if they plan on coming back frequently.
They’re also served hot meals and snacks and given personal hygiene items.
43 volunteers have already stepped up to be overnight hosts
“We’ve got a lot more who are making food and bringing it in every night and a lot lot more who are praying for the ministry,” said Best.
With temperatures not reaching single digits in recent weeks, the shelter has only had about 6 homeless people coming in each day.
However, volunteers say when the weather drops…they know it will be busy.
“One of the big issues is homeless kids and we have not seen kids here yet this year but there 161 kids in all of our school districts in Lycoming County that are considered homeless and that’s just sad to think kids are homeless and the average age of homeless in the US is about 9 years old so not a great statistic,” said Ron Frick.
Volunteers say it’s a critical shelter to have in the community…and even if they’re only housing one person…they know, they’re helping make a difference.
The Code Blue Warming Center will be open until March 13th.