Homeless in Sussex get help

Tuesday, February 13, 2007, BY ROBERTA FUGATE , Herald Staff Writer

With more than $5,000 now available, a committee formed to find a way to shelter homeless single men now has the funds needed to create a short-term solution for emergency winter shelter.

The money includes a $2,500 emergency grant from United Way, $1,000 each from the Sparta Presbyterian and Sparta United Methodist churches, along with individual donations from concerned members and organizations of the community.

“The ad hoc group is confident and hopeful that we have met the initial need of providing a safety net in a way which has not existed previously,” the committee said after meeting last week.

The funds will be administered so that “no one will be turned away, especially in the wintertime,” said Dr. Charlie McNeil, pastor of Sparta United Methodist Church.

The community now has an opportunity to get personally involved with helping the homeless. Individuals may now “buy a shelter” to help house individuals in need.

A donation of $50 will house someone for one night and $350 will buy a week of shelter. McNeil said he has already fielded nearly a dozen phone calls from concerned community members asking how they can help.

The colder temperatures have been a major factor in the need for emergency shelter. Nick Stefano, of the Sussex County Weather Network, said the temperatures in the area went from “well above normal in December and early January to well below normal the past few weeks.” The temperatures the past few weeks have been in the teens to low 20s during the day and at zero or below during the night.