Organizers of a homeless aid program entering its third year are urging the community to keep the vulnerable in mind even as the weather warms.
Compassion4Campers, a program started by the Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation, is calling for help to support the local homeless population during the five-month period church-based PADS shelters are shut down.
The program provides supplies to homeless campers during the summer and puts on weekly cookouts to assess needs and – as much as anything – to hold every day conversations.
"I have a deep belief that the act of sitting down at a table and eating a hot meal with silverware and plates and conversation is a basic human need," said Lisa Jacobsen, volunteer coordinator for the program.
During the summer, many of the county's homeless end up living out of their cars or finding secluded areas to camp, Jacobsen said.
Jacobsen is looking for volunteer groups who are willing to provide lunch for a day. Compassion4Campers holds cookouts every Monday from May 1 through September, before PADS church shelter sites open back up Oct. 1.
"I'm looking for groups," Jacobsen said. "Whether it's a work group, your motorcycle club, your cub scout pack. I'm looking for groups of people to come together."
The program is also seeking volunteers to help set-up and breakdown food service, serve the food and converse with the homeless. The cookouts are held at the PADS office, 14411 Kishwaukee Valley Road, Woodstock, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Mondays.
Tree of Life is also accepting donations – including bug spray, suntan lotion, bottled water, toilet paper, basic hygiene supplies, non-perishable food, gift cards for gas and meals, and larger items like sleeping bags or tents.
Those items can be brought to Tree of Life, 5503 Bull Valley Road, McHenry. To check the hours of the church, call 815-322-2464.
For more information about volunteering or providing meals, contact Jacobsen at firstname.lastname@example.org