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Lakeside warming center 1

James Ives displays the snug accommodations at the Lakeside Community Presbyterian Church’s warming center. A $1,110 grant from the Coquille Tribal Community Fund is enough to keep the center operating for a year.

LAKESIDE – On any given Sunday, fielding a softball team might be a stretch for Lakeside’s Community Presbyterian Church. Yet the tiny congregation (membership 12) is hitting home runs in mercy and charity.

Feed the hungry? Check.

Clothe the naked? You bet.

Shelter the homeless? They’re on it.

Lakeside Presbyterian is one of 50 community groups and agencies receiving grants this year from the Coquille Tribal Community Fund. The church’s warming center for the homeless was awarded this year’s smallest grant. It asked for and received just $1,110 to stay open for another year.

On Super Bowl Sunday, volunteers at Lakeside Community Presbyterian Church assembled 100 meal packs for homeless people. Food, clothing and wa…

“We don’t need any more money than that,” explained church Elder James Ives, who leads the project.

The warming center runs on a cheerful shoestring. When the local forecast calls for a freeze, Ives alerts a crew of church members and community volunteers. Word also goes out to nearby homeless camps.

In the evening, guests stash their personal belongings in a locked closet. Dinner is served at 8 p.m., courtesy of volunteers from another Lakeside church.

The accommodations are sparse but serviceable: eight narrow mattresses on the church floor, with blankets and clean linens. Kennel crates are available for dogs. A volunteer security detail keeps watch all night, and more volunteers serve breakfast at 7 a.m.

“The community made it happen,” Ives said. “All the church did was open our doors.”

The warming center serves a genuine need. The recent Point-In-Time Homeless Count found 35 people living rough in the Lakeside area.

“There are quite a few, but they’re hidden,” Ives said. “They’re in the woods.”

Along with cold-weather shelter, the church offers coats, clothing, backpacks, blankets and flashlights to those in need. Meal packets are another ministry of Lakeside Presbyterian.

On Super Bowl Sunday, a dozen volunteers gathered after church to load plastic zipper bags with non-perishable, ready-to-eat foods. Working in an assembly line, they stuffed 100 bags in 20 minutes, leaving plenty of time to catch the game. Ives reminded each volunteer to take a couple of packets to share with homeless people they meet on the street.

“The partnership between this church and the community is impressive,” said Jackie Chambers, who administers the Coquille Tribal fund. “They’re making a huge difference in people’s lives, and our tribe is proud to help.”

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