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Advocacy groups working together to light way

December 27, 2012

Audience members hold posters representing the state's homeless population at an event in Cranston last week. Jessica Boisclair. Kent County Daily Times.

WEST WARWICK — As they continue to explore locations for a temporary winter shelter, the Pawtuxet Valley Homeless Advocacy (PVHA) is using the Artic Mission to host events to feed and clothe the homeless people of Kent County.

The growing number of residents living on the streets and in shelters is substantial.

As of last week, 996 homeless people in Rhode Island were counted. Of that number, 728 were in shelter beds, 112 were sleeping on mats and 156 were living outside. In Kent County alone, 207 people are homeless.

Shelters are becoming scarcer as they fill up with people; leaving dozens sleeping on the streets. With winter upon us, the temperature is dropping; on Monday night, Mother Nature graced us with snowfall.

Because of this, advocates for the homeless are stepping up and helping out more than ever.

On Christmas Day, 30 volunteers gathered at the Artic Mission, 1221 Main St., to serve dozens of people in need.

Executive Director of the PVHA Edward Congdon explained that a breakfast was held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

He said more than 100 people were served and doors had to be opened early because a large line had already formed as early as 9 a.m.

He said volunteers from church groups such as Christian Hill, Helping Hands, SouthPointe Christian Church and Quidnick Baptist Church cooked and served the food.

Congdon said he was more than happy with the amount of food that was donated from various places, such as West Valley Inn, Westcott Pizza, Jerry’s Supermarket, West Warwick Police Union and D’Angelo’s.

Also, the PHVA gathered various items such as blankets, jackets, hats, gloves and thermals to donate to the people who attended the event to help them keep warm during the winter season.

He said he made an effort to approach various businesses about donating food and clothes and “we asked and we received.”

“For the most part people were very grateful that we held this event,” he said. “They felt loved and cared about. The main message is however, that we need a shelter.”

Currently, the PHVA is still searching for the right location for a temporary winter shelter to be placed.

He said that unfortunately, money is a big factor in creating a shelter; support on the other hand, has been great.

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