Penn Hills church providing more homeless people with sleeping bags, tents
After an initial successful drive over the Christmas season, a Penn Hills church is holding a second fundraiser to purchase even more sleeping bags, tents and other items for area homeless people.
The Rev. Bob Ruefle of Mt. Hope Presbyterian Church has partnered with Bridge to the Mountains, a nonprofit providing goods and services to Allegheny County’s homeless population, to raise money through Lent to buy the supplies.
The goal is to raise $2,500 to buy 150 warm-weather sleeping bags and 50 tents through church offerings and online donations.
Ruefle said the church raised $10,000 in December through a church-wide drive and donated 140 tents, 155 sleeping bags and 250 tarps to Bridge to the Mountains.
“We’re just trying to listen and be there and meet those needs. It’s our response to God for loving us,” Ruefle said.
The pastor handed out sleeping bags in January designed to keep users warm through freezing temperatures before the region experienced a cold snap of subzero temperatures.
This time around, Ruefle said, he wants to buy warm-weather sleeping bags for those who sleep outside as temperatures rise.
“Shelters set up for cold weather will be done in March,” Ruefle said.
According to Allegheny County Department of Human Services data, the number of homeless people in the area is declining.
The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development requires counties document the number of people experiencing homelessness on a single night in January including those living in emergency shelters, permanent supportive housing, rapid re-housing, safe havens, severe weather emergency shelters or transitional housing.
The 2018 Allegheny County count shows 783 people were experiencing homelessness, down 362 people compared to 2017.
The decrease is attributed to fewer people living in transitional and safe haven housing as more funding is allocated to permanent housing efforts.
To give to the Mt. Hope fundraiser, visit mthopepcusa.org/donate.
Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter .