Local help groups have their own ‘wish lists’ as they endeavor to make holidays brighter

Huntington House Manager Rosella Stouder adds a teddy bear “elf” to the Christmas tree at the women’s homeless shelter. Several items are on the “wish list” of that and other area homeless shelters.
Huntington House Manager Rosella Stouder adds a teddy bear “elf” to the Christmas tree at the women’s homeless shelter. Several items are on the “wish list” of that and other area homeless shelters. Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

Originally published Dec. 10, 2015.

It’s a scenario as old as the Christmas story itself: a family, finding themselves alone, in a city without shelter — in other words, homeless.

Folks still find themselves in that position more than 2,000 years later, even here in Huntington.

Although there may be no rooms available at some inns, three local ministries work hard to provide the homeless a place to stay, some food, and hopefully a leg up to turn their circumstances around.

As wise men brought gifts to help out the first Christmas family, modern-day donors can help fulfill the local shelters’ wish lists as they help out shelter residents.

The Huntington House currently has 12 women and children living at the big blue house on WilliamStreet. Manager Rosella Stouder says they are in need of full sized bed sheets.

“It doesn’t have to be new — they can be gently used,” she says. “We can also use twin sheets, but we desperately need full sized sheets.”

The house can also use mattress covers that keep out bedbugs.

“We don’t have them (bedbugs) — don’t want them,” Stouder says, laughing. “We have them (the covers) on the beds, but they have had some rips from children, so we need to replace them.”

Toiletries and household products would also be appreciated, such as toilet paper, paper towels, dish soap and laundry detergent for a high-efficiency washing machine.

Residents also are in need of household items when they go from Huntington House into their own residence.

“They could use the basics that are needed for setting up one’s own home,” Stouder says, “which is dishes, towels, sheets, all those types of things. Anything that is donated is something that we don’t have to purchase. And for individuals striving for stability and self-sufficiency, it’s anything that they might have to purchase for a home.”

In addition, Stouder says, the house is accepting donations for its annual rummage sale, held in the fall.

At the Women’s Life House, a ministry provided by New Life Fellowship, Director Carla Staton says there are several items on the house’s wish list.

“There are lots of things for the house that we could use, like siding,” she says. “We have a big tree in the back that needs to be trimmed — it’s rubbing up against the roof. That kind of stuff is always in need.”

Copy paper and office supplies are always needed, as well as pens.

“We run out of pens more than I break a nail,” Staton says. “And the house journals — we go through a lot of journals, because the ladies are required to write in a journal. Those are things that just help save money for us, financially.”

The women who reside in the house on Byron Street receive a “pile of stuff” — Staton says, things like a Bible, towels and washcloths, a clothes basket, note paper and a journal. They receive Bible study classes as well as advice on searching for a job.

The ladies at Women’s Life House can also get clothing from the Love In The Name of Christ, but cannot obtain food or other services. They also need toiletries, Staton says.

“Shampoos and lotions are usually a big thing (to give to the women), as long as it’s not hotel samples, because they don’t prefer those,” she adds.

The women would also appreciate new, unused underwear in sizes small to extra-large. Fingernail polish and hair products, such as hair ties,  individual  curling irons, hair straighteners and hairbrushes — and even haircuts — would be welcome, and helpful in job searches.                                                    

Another gift on the wish list is passes to get HAT rides.

“Transportation is always a difficult thing here,” Staton explains. “I transport when I can, but I don’t make a loud call about it because I would be on the go all the time.”

Staton adds the women who live in the house always need good mentors to help them in their journey to become self-sufficient.

While there is no long-term men’s homeless shelter in Huntington County, Capt. Barbara Owen says the Salvation Army does its best to help men who are stranded.

“We do short-term — one night — and it’s usually if somebody has been referred from the police department,” she says.

The Salvation Army will put men up in the Huntington Inn for a night. Owen says gas cards are always on their wish list.

“Generally, the people that we help are people who come into Huntington, and they seem to run out of gas, or funds, or those kinds of things,” she explains. “We’re not often able to do that, just because of the funding.”

Each of the ministries is always looking for those to donate their time to help with various tasks — from leading classes and to doing handywork and chores around the buildings themselves. Volunteers may go through a screening process.

To donate to Huntington House, contact Stouder at 358-0748.

To donate to the Women’s Life House, contact Staton at the house at 705-2623 or the office at 200-1091.

To donate to the Salvation Army, bring items to the office at 1424 E. Market St., Huntington or call Capt. Owen at 356-3485.