2 Louisville churches bless homeless with winter kits

January 17, 2022
By Alan Wild
Two Louisville churches teamed up Saturday, Jan. 15, to hand out about 70 backpack kits to the homeless that had been assembled by Kentucky Annual Conference staff as a Christmas-season service project.

About three dozen blankets also were available to distribute, said Rev. Jack Steiner, Associate Pastor at Fourth Avenue UMC, the participating church with St. Paul UMC. The kits were given out as part of Fourth Avenue’s Open Door Ministry and St. Paul’s Resource Center, which have teamed up as ministry partners during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fourth Avenue is in Old Louisville, and St. Paul is situated in the Highlands, both inner-city neighborhoods.

“We are grateful to have the opportunity to be in ministry with our friends at Fourth Avenue UMC, and we are continually blessed by the guests we serve,” said Sara Ferebee, Director of Communications and Outreach at St. Paul.

The kits included gloves, socks, winter hats, hand-warmers, travel toothbrushes and toothpaste, travel-sized first aid kits, hand sanitizer, wipes, and face masks. The Conference typically does a holiday service project and decided this year to do one on behalf of the homeless. They were assembled by staff during the Conference’s Christmas party in early December.

Ferebee said that before the pandemic, St. Paul offered a weekly Resource Center, which provided a hot meal, clothes, showers, bus tickets and more. When the pandemic hit, “we were forced to cease that offering. However, our congregation’s generosity continued, so we still had an ample supply of clothing and hygiene items.”

They decided to take the Resource Center on the road in June 2021 and set up a monthly event on the sidewalk at Fourth Avenue UMC. “The event was very well-received, so a dedicated group of St. Paul volunteers decided to make it a monthly event,” Ferebee said.

Steiner said the monthly assistance program normally is held on the second Saturday but was moved back a week because of bad weather on Jan. 8. Mild autumn weather allowed them to set up outside until December, when they moved indoors.

“It went very smoothly and very nicely,” Steiner said.

Open Door began in 1990 as a ministry for people in need, focusing on nutrition and health care. “We get many thank-yous, giving us blessings, and whatnot,” Steiner said. It goes well with Fourth Avenue’s mission of “sharing the love of God in the heart of the city,” he added.