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Shekinah church ready to help those in need

T-L Photo/CARRI GRAHAM Shekinah Christian Fellowship Lead Pastor Roy Hershberger, right, and youth Pastor Ruby Kauffman stand outside the church which is now Belmont County’s newest warming center.

BARNESVILLE — The Shekinah Christian Fellowship, the county’s newest warming center, is helping ensure residents will have a safe place to go during the cold winter months.

Lead Pastor Roy Hershberger said the church is ready to provide any resident in need of food and shelter this winter a warm place to stay. He said the church has acted as a shelter for people in need previously, providing shelter for families whose houses burned down.

“We have, in the past, at different times like when the manor caught fire and they needed shelter for a bunch of people at that time and we opened up the church. I think it’s been twice now that we’ve opened up the church for people and provided food and stuff like that for them. But to actually go on record as a warming shelter, this is our first year,” he said.

Hershberger said a phone call from a representative in Wheeling looking for additional places to add to the warming center list for the homeless and people in emergency situations prompted them to add the church’s name to the list.

“We thought we are doing this anyhow, we might as well make it known that we’re doing it,” he said.

Hershberger said it is important to have the warming shelters available, especially during the colder months when electricity can go out and leave people without heat. He also noted some people simply may not have access to a warm place to stay.

“Sometimes we don’t know what the needs are out there, so I think us being available like that, people that are actually looking for something will actually be able to find us that way. I don’t know how big the need really is in the Barnesville area, but I’m sure there’s people around that we don’t know about yet,” he said. “… We’re here as a church to help meet the needs of the community in any way we can be a blessing, that’s what we’re here for.”

So far this year there have been no inquiries from residents to utilize the church for shelter; however, he said they are ready to provide a space if the need should arise. He said they do anticipate a need for it in the area.

“We do expect to get phone calls. In the past, our local fire department, fire chief and our chief of police, if there’s needs like that, they’ve called me before and I was able to assist people to help meet their needs — getting homeless people a hotel for the night and stuff like that,” he said. “If they need some food or a warm place to stay, those are the things we are able to provide.”

The church will also have a washer and dryer available for those staying at the church to wash their clothing. Hershberger said they plan to install a shower as well.

“For people that come so they can actually take showers and wash clothes,” he added.

In addition to providing a warm space and food for residents in need, the church continues to offer free coats through its “If you need one, take one; if you have one, leave one” program.

The coats are located inside the space between the pair of entry doors where anyone is welcome to take a coat or donate one. Hershberger said the space is heated, so people are free to use the area to get warm and try on the coats.

“We get a lot of people that actually come there for coats. Sometimes we also have socks, mittens and toboggans, and sometimes shoes. It’s a place people can be in the warm while they try on coats,” he added.

Anyone in need of a warming shelter in Barnesville can call the church at 740-624-0612. The church is located at 145 W. Main St., Barnesville.

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