ELLSWORTH — Attention Christmas shoppers. There are only five shopping days until Christmas, but you may want to add the young and adult residents of the Emmaus Center to your Christmas list.
The people who find themselves at the homeless center are there by circumstance, not by choice. For many, the only Christmas presents they will receive this year will be from generous strangers who took the time to buy them a gift.
A suitable gift for an adult man or woman could be a wallet, a bottle of cologne or aftershave lotion, gloves, key chains, hats, slippers, jewelry or scarfs. Gifts also are needed for teen-agers, and in addition to practical gifts, teen-age girls and boys like posters.
Used toys often are donated to the shelter, but for Christmas, new gifts would be preferable. Children enjoy gifts of toys, books, games, puzzles and crayons. A call to the shelter will give you more information about the kinds of items that the shelter’s current young residents need. Emmaus Center Manager Judi Goodenough said the shelter also needs ribbon, tape and wrapping paper for the gifts. She asked that the gifts be delivered to the center unwrapped so they can be given to the appropriate recipient.
Goodenough said the shelter would welcome a gift of a used computer and printer. “It would allow us to take care of a lot of our work inhouse,” she said. Other useful office equipment would be a used copy machine and a four-drawer file cabinet.
The shelter’s kitchen needs a 12-cup or larger coffee maker, silverware and a four-slice toaster to replace a toaster that burns the bread. The shelter also could use more pillows, sheets and blankets for its many twin beds.
This is the second Christmas that Ralph and Judi Goodenough have spent as managers of Emmaus Center, and once again, they will open the center’s doors to anyone who would like to spend Christmas afternoon among friends. More than 100 people showed up for last year’s open house. Ralph said one man who came just sat and read a newspaper. He said many people who had no family in the area enjoyed the warm welcome they received at the shelter. Many former residents of the shelter are expected to visit on Christmas Day.
The open house will be from 1 to 4 p.m. on Christmas Day. If visitors want to bring something for the potluck meal, they can. “We have a lot of volunteers who come and they bring things. If there are people who want to come and don’t want to bring anything or can’t bring anything that is fine. Last year, we had more than enough food. We would be happy to have anybody come who needs a meal or a place to be on Christmas Day,” Judi said. “Or needs a family for a day,” Ralph added.
Christmas dinner will include turkey and ham, mashed potatoes and vegetables. “Last year, a woman’s group from a local church donated 26 pies. We expect to have more than enough food,” Judi said.
Judi said it is not unusual for families with children to be at the shelter and be without money to purchase gifts. She said new, unwrapped items delivered to the shelter could provide residents with a way to go “Christmas shopping” for their loved ones.
Emmaus Center is only a temporary shelter, and when residents move on to more permanent quarters, the center helps them furnish their new dwellings. “If anyone has a nice garage or a large storage place where we could store furniture, we would be able to accept donations immediately and then get them out to people who need them. Now, we have to refuse a lot because we don’t have room to store it,” Judi said.
She encouraged donors to call the center to learn what furniture items are needed. She said decorative items are always needed. “Things like pictures, lamps, alarm clocks, radios, those kinds of things, so when people move away, they are not stuck in a lonely, quiet, bare looking place,” she said.