Local homeless shelter needs clothing donations

Johnstown, Cambria County, Pa. - A homeless shelter in Cambria County needs clothing donations to keep people living on the streets warm and safe during the winter.

The Martha & Mary House in Johnstown receives anywhere between 15-30 calls a week from people looking for a place to stay, now that the nights are getting colder.

"Our very first cold night of this winter season, we had people approach us on our porch in the middle of the night with nowhere to go," said Jesse Trentini, the program director for the Martha & Mary House.

Up to 16 guests can stay at the shelter for 30 days. They get help with housing and rental assistance, educational and vocational training, and drug and alcohol counseling.

The shelter also provides clothing for its guests like Larry Kleitches, who lost his job in Colorado and moved back to Western Pennsylvania.

"All of us have hit a bump in the road for some reason, and some of us only came in with the clothes on our backs, so we definitely need good winter clothing," Kleitches said.

The homeless shelter needs items like sweatshirts, sweatpants, jeans, socks and underwear for both men and women. Most importantly, the shelter needs a wider range of sizes from small to extra large.

"We have a lot of smaller people that come in and they're swimming in the clothes that we give them, or vice versa," Trentini said.

The screening process can take up to 24 hours before someone is admitted to the shelter. In the meantime, the shelter offers survival packs with food, toiletries, hats and blankets.

Kleitches said having the basics like food, a place to sleep and a warm coat have helped him find a job and search for an apartment.

"They've given you that base of stability to work from so you know you're not totally starting from ground zero," Kleitches said.

Shelter employees said even something as small as a scarf or pair of gloves can make a big difference.

"Imagine not being able to have access to that and no way to get it, and the helplessness that comes with that. That's why those types of resources and the ability to give those out is so important," Trentini said.

If you would like to donate, you can contact the Martha & Mary House, located at 899 Bedford Street in Johnstown. You can call the shelter at: (814) 254-4413. You can also visit their website.

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