Annual Shelter Sunday drives different in pandemic




NORTHAMPTON — There will be no collection sites around the city on Oct. 4 for Shelter Sunday, the annual fundraiser for organizations that help those experiencing homelessness and hunger. 

Like many other events, it’s changing how it works this year.

Flyers with information and donation forms will soon go out to residents in Northampton and Easthampton. People are also able to donate online at

Funds go to the Shelter Sunday Coalition — ServiceNet, which runs the Grove Street Inn and the Interfaith Emergency Shelter, Friends of Hampshire County Homeless, which also runs the Interfaith Shelter, Manna Community Kitchen, and the Center for Human Development, which runs the Single Room Occupancy Outreach Project. Last year, the coalition raised $50,000, according to the Shelter Sunday website.  SKIP AD

In Amherst, the Shelter Sunday event on Oct. 18 is being moved mostly online, with door-to-door canvassing done by volunteers not happening. The money collected, usually between $25,000 and $35,000, goes to Craig’s Doors: A Home Association, which operates the Craig’s Place seasonal overnight shelter, a resource center and a Wednesday morning breakfast, and the Center for Human Development’s Not Bread Alone soup kitchen.

Two sites will continue to have volunteers standing outside that day at Atkins Farms Country Market in South Amherst and Stop & Shop in Hadley.

Shelters are headed into a difficult season. 

“Winter is tough just all around anyway,” said Allison Dane, program manager at the Interfaith Cot Shelter and Grove Street Inn. “Then you add a pandemic on top of that, and it gets a little crazier.”

Last April, a temporary shelter was set up at Northampton High School. With school back in session this year, ServiceNet is looking for a new spot to expand, Dane said.

“It’s still very much up in the air, right now,” she said. “Obviously we don’t know if COVID will ramp up this winter season as well.” 

Currently, both the Interfaith Shelter and Grove Street Inn are open with limited capacity because of COVID-19, said Amy Timmins, a spokesperson for ServiceNet.

Some of the funding from Shelter Sunday will go toward fees for documents, transportation to job interviews or medical care, and clients’ payments for a security deposit and first and last month’s rent.

“Things like that may be typical barriers for the population,” Dane said.

“Every dollar counts,” she added, “Any help is greatly appreciated. We’re dealing with extra conditions that we typically don’t deal with.”Greta Jochem can be reached at Staff writer Scott Merzbach contributed to this report. 

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