Grace Center in Gloucester serves 50-70 people a day. When the shelters close at 8a.m. the homeless have to find safe, warm shelter elsewhere. Grace is open from 8:30am-4pm and its guests are welcome to stay the entire day and have lunch. Although the majority of guests are homeless, some are simply seeking companionship, a break from the loneliness of their single rented room above the YMCA.
Looking a little deeper, I spoke with Christine from Grace Center to better understand their needs and if there was a way we could help. "Ideally, we would love to have a closet, where we could store coats, hats and gloves," said Christine. She went on to say (with hope in her voice) that unfortunately, for now, they don't have the space for coats. Everything would have to go out, the day it came in. It's just not practical right now. They operate out of 3 different locations.
But, we can do SOMETHING. Christine filled me in. Hats, gloves and socks are small items, in high demand, small enough to store in her car, something she does frequently. Also, razors, combs and feminine products can NOT be purchased with food stamps. If someone has NO money, ONLY food stamps, these items are out of reach. She went on to say how valuable a $5 gift card to McDonalds or Family Dollar is to a homeless person. I had no idea. $3 is not enough and $10 is too much (could be sold). $5 is the magic number. That $5 allows them to sit in a toasty warm McDonalds, because they are a paying customer, and have something to eat. The Family Dollar $5 gives them the ability to buy a snack or a drink, be inside the store, where it's warm, something I take for granted. Grace gives these gift cards out, especially this time of the year, to guests for things like being kind to another guest. Heartwarming.
Listening to Christine talk about Grace makes you want to pay it forward.
Visit Grace Center's website and see the impressive list of services they provide.
Feel like helping Grace? We are accepting donations of hats, gloves, socks, $5 giftcards (Family Dollar & McDonalds) and personal hygiene items from now until December 21st.