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Homeless Christmas Tree Initiative helps recently homeless

homelesschristmas.jpg
Steve Rhodes
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Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Lewis County's Homeless Christmas Tree Initiative is collecting donated household goods like paper towels and silverware for people who have recently become homeless and are starting over. A sprawling heap of plates, linens, pillows, and cleaning products sit under a Christmas tree in the Lewis County Chamber of Commerce.

Stacey Alvord is the commissioner of the county's Department of Social Services. She said the community's generosity has been overwhelming.

"Right now there is just a path that people can get to their offices because of the incredible response that we've had," Alvord said.

The donations will go to 60 families and individuals who are moving into new homes. They may have been evicted from their previous home or doubling up with relatives. Alvord said little household items from blankets to can openers can add up, and can be hard to afford for those on a limited budget.

And she said those little things are important.

"I think if we can all think about what it means to walk into a home and how safe that feels to us with all of our belongings around us and bringing the same tea kettle out or fixing the soup and having a cup to pour it into," Alvord explained. "All of that is comfort."

Alvord said the department sees about 300 people each year who have lost a home and need somewhere to sleep. Lewis County has no emergency shelter, so Alvord said the homeless depend on family, friends, and churches to help. She said this donation program allows the broader community to pitch in during this time of giving.

"It is to bring hope," Alvord said. "It is to connect to really the neediest and poorest among us, and isn't that what December 25 is all about?"

The drive ends Christmas Eve. Youth groups will pack up donations and distribute them to families throughout 2015.

Those interested in donating household goods can drop them off at the Lewis County Chamber of Commerce at 7576 S. State St. from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through December 23.