PERU — Brenda Swan is always looking for ways to help people in the community through her church.

She and the the United Baptist Church just finished distributing Christmas presents for those in need. It served as a collection place for Toys for Tots, and volunteers delivered dozens of sweatshirts, knit hats, mittens and gloves to youngsters at Dirigo Elementary School.

“People have been so generous,” she said.

Her latest venture with the church will begin Jan. 5, when the
fellowship hall, decorated with wall-sized murals of various cultures,
will serve as a warming center two days a week for anyone who wants to
take part.

It’s a chance to turn the thermostat down for a few hours and to get out and chat with friends and neighbors, Swan said.

Kelly Smith, wife of the church’s pastor, Cory Smith, said the warming center is another way to help people and to get to know everyone in the community.

Swan spoke with the Rev. Susan Crane, pastor of Henderson Memorial Baptist Church in Farmington, which is entering its second year as a warming center site. Swan said this year’s Warming Place will be a trial, to see how it will work. If successful, the new program may expand to include other area churches in the future.

The warming center will be open every Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. through March.

Those who attend are asked to bring a bag lunch. The church will supply soup and hot coffee, hot cider or hot cocoa.

Members of the church will also volunteer at the events. If people want to come to the church during the “warming days” and don’t have transportation, Swan said church volunteers could help with that, too. People may call 562-7167.

“Elderly people especially seldom get out during the winter months. This will provide a chance to get out and mingle,” she said.

Besides a chance to visit with friends, games will be available, as well as a widescreen television for showing movies.

The church also houses a food pantry, which Swan said is a real need this year, provides booties, diapers and other items for very young children under its Sheltering Wings program, and hosts an active youth group.

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