United Way of Hampshire County, Cooley Dickinson Hospital Collaborate to Aid Area Shelters

NORTHAMPTON — United Way of Hampshire County and Cooley Dickinson Hospital (CDH) are collaborating to assist area shelters in stocking up on much-needed items for winter as the weather turns cold.

John Bidwell, the United Way’s executive director, and Joanne Marqusee, president and CEO of CDH, both emphasized the greater needs faced by those who are homeless at this time when COVID-19 remains a threat. They stressed that the donations are not luxury items, but materials needed to protect peoples’ health and safety.

Items should be new or gently used and clean, and delivered in a plastic or paper bag. The organizations specifically seek donations of jeans; warm shirts; outerwear such as coats, jackets, and parkas; foot and hand warmers; sleeping bags and blankets; socks; hats; quarters for drying clothes at a laundromat; and large trash bags for use within the shelter. Items can be placed in a designated container at CDH’s north entrance.

“With winter and ongoing economic challenges, we are very concerned with a rise in homelessness,” Bidwell said. “Because the cold is coming on quickly, and the region doesn’t seem to have enough shelter, it is important that we get basic supplies to those who are homeless. It goes beyond human decency. Making these gifts could be a matter of life and death.”

Added Marqusee, “we know our health is, in part, determined by social and economic opportunities. This time of year presents many hazards for people who are less fortunate, specifically those who are homeless in our community. Factor in the COVID-19 pandemic — and decreased capacity at area shelters — and we realize just how vulnerable people are.”