Seek­ing shel­ter from the cold

Har­vest House vol­un­teers raise aware­ness of home­less­ness in Windsor area

Valley Journal Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - BY COLIN CHISHOLM WWW.HANTSJOURNAL.CA

It’s be­com­ing a com­mon sight around this time of year. Along King Street in Windsor, a makeshift tarp tent set up in front of the Windsor Bap­tist Church bears a sign that reads: ‘Would you live here?’

It’s a way to raise aware­ness of the plight of those who are home­less in the Windsor area — an is­sue that is often left un­no­ticed. Many sleep in far-off places like the train tracks or along the trails, not on down­town streets. They’re out of sight, out of mind.

But Donna Eldridge, the co­or­di­na­tor of Har­vest House, and a team of vol­un­teers take watch along a busy sec­tion of King Street as driv­ers-by swing in to drop off dona­tions for their cause.

The fundraiser is now in its eighth year. The vol­un­teers say they’re proud of the com­mu­nity mem­bers who are step­ping up, do­nat­ing bills in­stead of coins.

It all makes a dif­fer­ence, but per­haps now the mes­sage is start­ing to take hold.

“It shows that, yes, peo­ple are liv­ing out­side, in the cold, with noth­ing,” Eldridge said. “This might help a lit­tle bit.”

Har­vest House of­fers a place to stay for folks who are in need of a warm bed and a roof over their heads. It’s tough, gru­el­ing work but Eldridge keeps at it.

“The rea­son I help is be­cause peo­ple helped me when I was in need, when I was younger,” she said. “We lived on wel­fare and peo­ple helped us. So, God placed it on (me) to help oth­ers, and re­gard­less of what na­tion­al­ity you are, ev­ery­body needs help.”

Eldridge said she’s housed a few refugees, many from eastern Europe, who are flee­ing that part of the world for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons.

“To see that they were in need, even when it comes to learn­ing English, I’m not much of a teacher but, I was there to help them,” she said. “I re­al­ized that there’s a whole big world out there and a lot of hurt­ing peo­ple.”

COLIN CHISHOLM

From left, Jen­nifer Dill, Donna Eldridge, and Kathy Ri­ley try to stay warm in­side a makeshift tent. They spend the night in­side it each year to bring at­ten­tion and aware­ness of the plight of home­less and dis­placed peo­ple.

COLIN CHISHOLM

From left, Jen­nifer Dill, Donna Eldridge, and Kathy Ri­ley, vol­un­teers with Har­vest House in Windsor, wait out in the cold, col­lect­ing dona­tions for the or­ga­ni­za­tion Nov. 15.

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