Many in Huntsville were relieved to learn this week that The Table Men’s Shelter would finally open with eight beds available on December 5. It was a bittersweet announcement following the death of a homeless man – Paul Fenc – who was trying to keep warm in a van.
Today, Algonquin Outfitters presented The Table Soup Kitchen Foundation’s CEO Heather Berg with 10 cold-weather sleeping bags to help keep Huntsville’s homeless and those living in poverty warm this winter. The donation stemmed from a conversation Randy Mitson, AO’s Marketing Manager, had with a foundation staff member about things they needed for the coming season.
Mitson quickly got AO’s owner, Rich Swift, who is away on vacation right now, on board to donate seven sleeping bags. An email to outdoor gear supplier Marmot garnered two more bags, and Mitson donated his personal but rarely used bag as well. When he arrived to drop off the donation, he was pleased to discover that two more sleeping bags had also been donated by people in the community.
“I also got the chance to actually give my personal sleeping bag and tarp to a homeless man while I was there,” said Mitson. “It really warmed my heart to know that he will be warmer and dryer this evening.”
Berg said that some of the bags will be given to those in need – both those who are homeless and those who are living in poverty and can’t afford heat – and a few will be kept at the shelter to help provide warmth when men come in from the cold.
She said that The Table would welcome further donations from the community of clean, usable, warm sleeping bags and also bedding – warm sheets and comforters – for The Table Exchange Store to help those in need in the community.
“There are some people in the community who have shelter but they’re cold,” said Berg. “I was at a trailer two years ago where this couple, who kept coming to pick up blankets lived. They had mounds of them because it was all they had to keep them warm.”
Staff at Algonquin Outfitters also sponsor a family from The Table every year. Last year they supported a single father with five children. They are waiting to be assigned a family for this Christmas.
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