Church in Virginia Helps Members See What It’s Like to Be Homeless

Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Alexandria, Virginia, is tackling the problem of homelessness by taking donations, but also in another, unique way: by having its members camp in makeshift shelters overnight so they can experience homelessness for themselves.

“Those who camp out literally feel the pain of a cold and damp dark night,” said Father Thomas Ferguson, pastor of Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Alexandria. “And parishioners who see the camp on the way into church are moved to be ever more generous in providing food, clothing and shelter for those who are homeless in our community.”

Good Shepherd Catholic Church Tackles Homelessness

On Saturday, November 23rd, the members of Good Shepherd, as well as people from other local parishes, spent the night in shelters made of cardboard boxes and tarps. This is the seventh time the church has held its annual Homeless for a Night Campout, the purpose of which is to raise awareness of the needs of the homeless population. Said Ferguson, “The annual ‘Homeless for a Night Campout’ gives all parishioners, and especially our youth, an opportunity to be in solidarity with people who are homeless.”

Participants began constructing their shelters around 2 p.m. and were not allowed to use hammers, nails, power tools, or any electronics as they prepared for a cold and rainy evening. A local facility for the homeless called Christ House gave a presentation, and volunteers with the church and Christ House served the participants a meal.

Families and teens all took part in the event, and Susan Grunder, director of social ministry at the church, joined Ferguson in emphasizing the value of the event for young people: “We have teens from our parish and from other parishes coming here to spend the night outside to raise awareness of the plight of our homeless brothers and sisters.”

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Source: Church Leaders