SALEM TOWNSHIP — The empty furniture shop at the United Methodist Economic Ministry has a new coat of paint. Lattice work surrounds the large, wood furnace in the corner. Preparations under taken by the staff for this week’s grand opening of a Warming Center.

The Warming Center will be held every Wednesday through the end of March from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Economic Ministry on Salem Road.

“It’s an opportunity for residents to turn down the heat in their homes for the day and keep warm next to our wood furnace,” said Kay Webb, executive director of UMEM. “It’s not done yet. It’s still a work in progress, a space for the community.”

Like the Warming Centers in Farmington and Wilton, it’s a place for residents to spend the long winter days with other people while enjoying games or making crafts and having lunch and snacks.

During this first day, participants helped create small health kits for Haiti earthquake victims. Items such as hand towels, soap, toothbrushes and more were placed in gallon bags prepared for shipment to Haiti, she said.

While some people may not feel they can give a lot, bringing a bar of soap makes a way for everyone to do something, she said.

Depending on what participants want to do, Webb has several ideas for ways to help people stay warm and maybe spend time on crafts that can be sold providing money for the craftsmen to use to heat their homes, she said. It would be similar to the Ministry’s Christmas wreath program where area families gather Balsam fir tips and make wreaths, which are sold producing income for the area’s unemployed, she said.

Webb has asked other congregations to donate any their extra craft items. An overwhelming response has provided supplies for just about any craft someone might want to do, she said. Rice packed hand warmers and scarves capable of being microwaved, and quilted blankets can be made as well.

Celebrating 40 years of ministry last fall, the programs are based on outreach. With a mission, “to clothe the naked, feed the hungry and house the poor,” the ministry started with a thrift store on Route 142.

The mission site has expanded to include a food pantry, space for summer mission teams to come while working on area housing projects, a program to supply new sneakers, underwear and school supplies to 150 area school children and a fuel assistance program that provides an emergency 10 gallons of kerosene, she said.

Another popular program established by Operations Manager Crystal Cook, allows parents to choose Christmas gifts for their children from a free Christmas Shop. A private appointment with Cook can lead to helping with other issues they are struggling with such as heat, she said.

“Nobody should be cold or hungry,” Webb added.

The ministry is supported by the New England Conference of United Methodist Churches and the United Way of the Tri-Valley Area.

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A Warming Center opened this week at the United Methodist Economic Ministry in Salem Township. UMEM Executive Director Kay Webb, seated, and Operations Manager, Crystal Cook, along with volunteer host for the center, Doris Stone, share their thoughts Wednesday on the programs offered at the mission site. With the help of staff, the former furniture shop complete with a large, wood furnace, background, has been cleared, painted and comfortable furniture added to make a community space.

A Warming Center opened this week at the United Methodist Economic
Ministry in Salem Township. UMEM Executive Director Kay Webb, seated,
and Operations Manager, Crystal Cook, along with volunteer host for the
center, Doris Stone, share their thoughts Wednesday on the programs
offered at the mission site. With the help of staff, the former
furniture shop complete with a large, wood furnace, background,
has been cleared, painted and comfortable furniture added to make a
community space.

A Warming Center opened this week at the United Methodist Economic
Ministry in Salem Township where area residents can spend long winter days together. Enjoying lunch together Wednesday are center host Doris Stone, Kathy Spencer, thrift shop manager Bunny Moore and Reggie Spencer. With the help of staff, the former
furniture shop complete with a large, wood furnace has been cleared, painted and comfortable furniture added to make a
community space.


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