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Schuylkill County church gives back for Lent

Instead of giving up something for Lent, some Pottsville parishioners are giving back to the community during the Lenten season by serving the homeless for 40 days.

POTTSVILLE, Pa. — Gerry Schwartz is working with Pottsville parishioners at St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church to help keep the homeless warm and fed this Lenten season with Blessing Bags.

According to the Homeless Shelter Directory, there are nearly 100 homeless people in Schuylkill County. Many depend on soup kitchens and food pantries.

“When you serve food at the soup kitchen, it's a very humbling experience. Especially when you see someone you know, then it's even harder,” said Schwartz.

Schwartz's love for serving the Schuylkill County community initiated this Lenten season project.

Since Ash Wednesday, the church has collected enough food and winter supplies to benefit 50 people who are homeless. 

“Part of almsgiving is helping the community and outreach to those who are homeless and those who don't have enough to eat,” Schwartz explained.

In addition to collecting non-perishable items for the Blessing Bags, parishioners made 10 blankets to give to those who may not have something to keep them warm.

 “The Blessing Blankets will be given out by Blessings for All themselves, so if somebody comes in and doesn't have anything to keep them warm or a coat, they will give them a blessing blanket.”

Schwartz says this act of service has strengthened her faith and community at church.

“It's a really good Lent this year. I feel energized. I won't be able to see the Blessing Bags going out, but that's OK. We know they're going to a safe place where people are going to that safe place for help.” said Schwartz.

If you would like to give back this Lent, you can drop off non-perishable items at St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church from now till the weekend of March 26 and 27. The Blessing Bags will then be donated to the homeless in the beginning of April.

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