For their soles

Published 10:10 pm Friday, February 14, 2020

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First Baptist Church Mahan in downtown Suffolk serves souls, but on Thursday, they also served soles.

The church and its Loving Care ministry collected new socks for the Coalition Against Poverty in Suffolk’s Night Stay program, which serves the city’s homeless population. The church also provided a box of food for those who come to CAPS hungry and in need of a snack or a meal.

“We want to be a blessing to CAPS and to the homeless,” said Ann Smith, who heads up the church’s Loving Care Ministry.

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Harvey Whitney, a deacon at the church, said its members are blessed to be able to serve CAPS and its programs, and he hopes more churches will partner with the organization.

“CAPS has been a great asset to the city of Suffolk,” Whitney said, “not only for the homeless and providing night stays for people who are homeless, but also veterans.”

Whitney said CAPS has been a strong advocate in helping meet their needs.

Cheryl Griffin, the CAPS Night Stay administrator, said socks are among the most needed and requested items when people come in to stay for the night. After they take a shower, they don’t want to put on dirty socks.

“At the shelter, often they’ll come in, (after) walking all day,” Griffin said. “It might be raining or really cold, and one of the first things they’ll often ask for is socks, dry socks, to put on. Their shoes are wet. Everything’s wet, so they’ll need socks.”

CAPS Director Mignon Burton said she appreciates the support from First Baptist Church Mahan.

“When we see member churches that just have the heart for the program, and seeing the need of what our guests and clients need, is just overwhelming for us at CAPS,” Burton said. “Just simple things that we take for granted, to be able to see the heart of somebody else’s needs and being able to fill that in as a church has been just a blessing and overwhelming because it keeps coming in — just the amount of love that’s shown to people who sometimes just fall on bad times for a period.

“It doesn’t mean they’re always going to stay there, and just seeing that they are loved and taken care of is awesome things to see from our member churches.”

Burton noted that many who are coming to CAPS in need are caught in a tough life circumstance and just need help. One tough one in particular, she said, is when people lose access to a car and can’t afford other means of transportation, which makes it hard for people to stay employed. It also puts them in a cycle of homelessness, she said.

Griffin said those coming into the Night Stay program have been about one-third men, one-third women and one-third children, and a number that are families together. More than 14 families have been in the shelter this winter, with between 25 to 30 people served most nights.

In the seventh year of CAPS’ Night Stay program, it has grown from a seven- or eight-week program, to one that is now 22 weeks long, running from Nov. 13 to mid-April.

Griffin said after the fall’s Socktober event, CAPS started the winter season with 2,000 pairs of socks, which are already gone, so she’s grateful for the church’s timely donation.

“This is a blessing whenever we get socks,” Griffin said. “This is a real blessing to the homeless.”