Task force launches first goods, gear drive to aid homeless

Staff Writer
Published: 12/2/2022 3:47:50 PM

The Franklin County and North Quabbin Emergency Services for Unhoused Individuals Task Force has launched a gear and goods drive, seeking help to nourish, warm and provide “food for the soul” for the region’s homeless population.

“The intent of this effort is to provide goods and gear, as well as raise funding to purchase items to distribute to unhoused individuals who live in our rural area, that do not have the means or access to emergency shelter services,” Heather Bialecki-Canning, executive director of the North Quabbin Community Coalition, and Debra McLaughlin, coordinator of the Opioid Task Force of Franklin County and the North Quabbin Region, wrote in a joint statement.

“This is being done because Franklin County and the North Quabbin region, which spans 30 communities, has only one emergency shelter for individuals located in Greenfield,” they continued, referring to ServiceNet’s facility with 30 beds on Wells Street. “It is currently full.”

The list of donations that will be accepted includes sleeping bags, tents, coats, toothpaste, canned goods, shampoo, YMCA passes and gift cards. The full list of donations sought can be found at bit.ly/3u75XzN. The drive is already underway and will continue through Dec. 21.

McLaughlin explained to the Greenfield Recorder that gear to keep people warm, like wool socks, sleeping bags and waterproof boots, represent the most needed items.

The list was compiled by people on the task force, many of whom have experience with being unhoused. Items were chosen at a variety of price points to allow people to join in the goods drive at any ability, explained McLaughlin.

In the past, the task force has organized a collection for toiletries, but this is the group’s first year seeking gear donations for the winter.

McLaughlin estimated there are about 45 to 50 unhoused people in the greater Greenfield region and a similar number in the North Quabbin region, so this drive is aiming to help about 100 people who are in a variety of stages of being unhoused, including couch surfing and fully living in a tent outside.

Donations are accepted in two locations. The North Quabbin Community Coalition, 251 Exchange St. in Athol, and the Franklin County Justice Center, 43 Hope St. in Greenfield, will have donation bins so residents in both regions can easily donate.

Monetary donations are also accepted online at bit.ly/3VFRzu9. Donors are advised to put “2022 FCNQ Gear/Goods Drive” in the subject line.

“We are grateful there are many efforts to create more affordable housing right now,” McLaughlin noted, “but we are focusing on immediate needs for people who don’t have housing.”

Bella Levavi can be reached at blevavi@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.


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