The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

December 26, 2012

Volunteers bring some holiday cheer to those who are homeless

By Ashley Wislock
The Daily Item

— SUNBURY — About 20 people came together Tuesday evening to break bread and give thanks with friends and family at Haven Ministry Center in Sunbury, a shelter for the Valley’s homeless.

Staff and clients dined on the traditional Christmas fixings, including ham, turkey, stuffing and desserts, all donated by Valley organizations, said Christy Zeigler, the shelter’s assistant director.

“We get zero government dollars,” she said. “We totally depend on donations.”

A volunteer carved ham as Zeigler set out pies next to a vegetable tray and gingerbread men, complete with frosting smiles and candy cane walking sticks.

In the other room, lights from a Christmas tree glistened off ornaments as a TV was tuned to a professional basketball game.

And while the 15 residents of the shelter may wish circumstances were different, they said they were happy to be part of the celebration and were continuing to indulge in their Christmas traditions.

“When (my sons) were little I used to wake them up at 12:01 a.m. and they were allowed to open gifts,” said Jackie, a mother of two. “Now that they’re teenagers, we stay up and play games.”

Jackie, who did not want to give her last name, said she came to the shelter after a dispute with her landlord.

“I just couldn’t live there anymore,” she said.

But that wasn’t taking the Christmas spirit out of her and her family’s holiday, she said.

“You have to make the best of it,” she said.

Looking out over two tin trays filled with carved turkey, Zeigler said the Valley’s businesses and other organizations have made it possible to provide Jackie and the other clients of Haven Ministry Center a way to enjoy the holiday in a safe and comfortable environment.

“The businesses in the area are very generous this time of year,” she said.