Edinboro United Methodist Church has launched its annual collection of items for the Erie United Methodist Alliance (EUMA) using a Collection Calendar the church created in collaboration with EUMA.
"This is a really fun, family-friendly way to provide practical help to veterans and families who are experiencing homelessness in our area and are being served by EUMA," said Erica Rushing, ministry coordinator at Edinboro UMC. "It's also incredibly easy to do! Throughout the years, we've found that this is a great way to engage children in thinking about the needs of others, recognizing the blessings we all have that are often overlooked, and fostering the idea that small steps make big change!"
Erie United Methodist Alliance provides emergency and transitional shelter services to homeless veterans and families with children. Services include shelter, food, clothing, chaplain and support services, counseling, and case management. EUMA also conducts on-the-street outreach to homeless individuals and offers the Healthcare for the Homeless Partnership by teaming up with the Faith Community Nurses of Northwest PA. They partner with the Our Neighbor's Place Overflow Shelter during the winter to help provide warm overnight housing for our area homeless in the inhospitable conditions of northwest PA.
EUMA's shelter facilities include The Refuge and The Liberty House. The Refuge is the only emergency shelter in our area that can keep an entire family together by housing them in their own room. Sheltering families together provides stability in a time of upheaval and allows the whole family to participate in the process of regaining self-sufficiency.
The Liberty House provides a safe haven to homeless veterans who have served our country and are in need of a new beginning. By providing them with the advocacy and support needed to help regain independence and move into stable and permanent housing, the structured program at Liberty House enables these men to develop the life skills necessary to deal positively with life issues and make homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring.
"The items collected are a list that we have compiled in conversation with EUMA," Erica explained. "These are items that are not readily available through the Second Harvest Food Bank, or that typically come through other outside donations. Each item is used to help stock the shelter and housing facilities, or are used in packages provided as families transition from shelter services into permanent housing. These items make an immediate difference in so many lives, and anything donated is greatly appreciated!"
Edinboro encourages its people to share the calendar with friends, take it to work, or post a copy in their favorite coffee shop/restaurant/meeting space. "We are always blown away by the support we receive from this calendar," Erica said. Other congregations are invited to participate --or use the calendar as a template for a collection of needed items for a shelter in their own area. If a congregation or group wants to participate in Edinboro's EUMA collection, but can't take the items to the church, Erica said she would try to arrange for pickup.