Temperatures may still be mild, but Compassionate Hands is seeking donations and volunteers before they open their doors to homeless residents of Lebanon.

This will be the seventh winter that Compassionate Hands has partnered with churches in the area to provide shelter for the homeless population in Wilson County.

This year there will be around 38 churches involved by either providing church space or volunteers. Last winter there were 32 churches involved.

"We love having many churches of different denominations come together to address a community problem," said John Grant, the executive director of Compassionate Hands. "The volunteers and guests find great friendships with each other and challenge preconceived notions that they had about one another."

Generations of Grace church will be hosting people this winter, for the fifth year in a row. Pastor Kathy Tack says it is a blessing to be able to provide men with a comfortable place to stay.

"We just feel blessed to be a part of the ministry and be able to help our community in that way," Tack said. "We are able to host up to six men each night. We provide them with toiletries, movies and games, but they're all just appreciative to have a warm place to sleep."

Tack urges other churches to get involved this winter.

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"Lots of churches think they don't have the resources or space to do this," Tack said. "We're a very small church. We can only host six people, we don't have showers for them, but they're grateful for any way we can serve them."

Shelia Weathers, the director of ministry development for Compassionate Hands, says there are many ways for the community to get involved this winter.

"We mostly need drivers right now. People who are comfortable driving at night to three locations to pick people up, and then bring them back to those three locations in the morning," Weathers said. "We're also working hard looking for people to help with dinner every night except Sunday nights. We need volunteers to prepare the meals and volunteers to come help serve."

Weathers said the community can also make monetary donations or donations of new or gently used hats, gloves, boots, coats, twin sheets, warm blankets, towels and washcloths.

"Last year on the busiest night we had 50 people, so we need as much help as we can get," Weathers said.

Last winter, 2,100 beds were utilized by 136 people. There was an average of 14 men and 7 women staying at a church each night.

The churches will be open for overnight guests from Dec. 1 to March 15. The churches currently do not have the resources for children and family units.

Monetary donations can be sent to PO Box 1156, Lebanon, TN 37088.

Those interested in volunteering or donating clothing or linens can reach Grant or Weathers at 615-784-9897.

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