Indiana Daily Student

Bloomington shelters, pantries seek clothing, food, money donations for holiday season

The Shalom Community Center is a resource center in Bloomington that helps people experiencing homelessness and poverty. It is located at 620 S. Walnut St.
The Shalom Community Center is a resource center in Bloomington that helps people experiencing homelessness and poverty. It is located at 620 S. Walnut St.

Many local nonprofits are accepting donations in preparation for a particularly tough holiday season, riding on the tailcoat of Indiana’s deadliest month of the COVID-19 pandemic and amid an approximate 5% unemployment rate in the state.

“Everyone needs a little bit of cheering up this season,” said Amalia Shifriss, outreach and communications coordinator at Middle Way House.

Middle Way House supports victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. Like many other nonprofits that largely rely on donors, Middle Way has taken financial hits because it can’t have fundraising events, so monetary donations are especially important this year, Shifriss said.

Financial donations can sometimes be more useful because the organization can put the money toward the most pressing needs at a given time, said Beacon executive director Forrest Gilmore. Beacon is the parent organization for the Shalom Community Center day shelter and A Friend’s Place night shelter.

For those wishing to donate items, though, both Beacon and Middle Way House have Amazon registries, so people can buy curated products and have them shipped directly to the organizations. Both are also accepting dropped off donations.

Beacon is accepting items such as clothing, hygiene products, luggage, tents and tarps, blankets, nonperishable food items and over-the-counter medications. Used clothing and gear is fine, as long as items are clean and in good condition. People wishing to donate should first check Beacon’s website for specific items because there’s limited storage space and it takes extra time to give away items the organization can’t use, Gilmore said.

He said jackets, coats, hats, gloves, warm socks and boots are even more valuable this year since being outdoors is more COVID-safe. He said Beacon already has many scarves.

“It is very important that people give what’s needed, as opposed to giving what’s in their closet,” Gilmore said.

Beacon’s donations drop-off is contactless. From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. any day, donors can leave their items at a table set up in the back parking lot of the Shalom Community Center, located on South Walnut Street.

Middle Way House is accepting donations of clothing, baby supplies, hygiene products, homeware, nonperishable food items and more for its emergency shelter, transitional housing program and day care. Lists of specific items can be found online. Due to COVID-19, Middle Way House is only accepting new, unused items.

Donors should call ahead in advance to speak with staff about current needs or to schedule a drop-off appointment. Donations can be dropped off 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at one of Middle Way House’s buildings on South Washington Street, depending on the items. Curbside and no-contact options are available.

Shifriss said people can also participate in Middle Way House’s gift drive for specific patrons. Those interested should email holiday2020@middlewayhouse.org.

Community Kitchen of Monroe County seeks to eliminate hunger through food service, education and advocacy. Director Vicki Pierce said the organization is heavily reliant on food donations for its various programs, including its annual Thanksgiving and Christmas Day dinners.

“We want to try to make the holidays brighter for people who don’t necessarily have the traditional holiday that some of the rest of us do,” she said.

This year, Community Kitchen served more than 850 Thanksgiving dinners, and Pierce said she’s estimating a similar number of patrons for Christmas.

Community Kitchen is accepting food donations of boneless hams, canned green beans, canned sweet potatoes, canned cream of mushroom soup, canned fruit, dinner rolls, butter and pies for the Christmas dinner.

Donors can drop off food from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturdays at the organization’s headquarters on South Rogers Street. Curbside drop-off is also available at the back door.

Pierce said Community Kitchen has also had fundraising difficulty since it can’t have events. The organization is selling boxes of a dozen cookies to fundraise for the holiday season, and orders must be made online by Saturday. Anyone wishing to make financial donations to the organization can mail them to Community Kitchen’s PO box.

People can also donate to United Way of Monroe County, of which these three organizations are member agencies. Local nonprofits that are also United Way agencies include Big Brothers Big Sisters, Hoosier Hills Food Bank, Indiana Legal Services, LifeDesigns, MCCSC School Assistance Fund and Planned Parenthood of Indiana, according to the United Way website.

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