NEW PALESTINE — There’s a tree up in February, but with good reason.
Red and pink hearts adorn the tree in the gathering area of Zion Lutheran Church. Each one represents a gift that will be given to Hope House.
“It’s paper towels, cleaning supplies, personal hygiene, extra-long sheets, twin-size sheets,” said parishioner Linda Schulenburg.
She said the church has, for about 10 years, set up a giving tree to help the homeless shelter in Greenfield.
“We try to support mission work that’s near us,” Schulenburg said. “We’ve always loved working for them.”
Karen Newell, program coordinator for Hope House, said the items the church gathers are vital to helping residents move forward.
“Those donated items are the beginning of a fresh start for our residents,” she wrote in an email. “A warm bed, hot shower and shave helps them feel confident when they go for job interviews. They are the very first steps on their new path.
“We are thankful for Zion Lutheran Church and every donor that supports those first steps.”
In the past, the tree at Zion for gathering donated items was up at Christmastime, filled with “Stars of Hope.” It was one of several avenues of seasonal giving the people of the congregation embrace, along with an adopt-a-family program to provide Christmas gifts, an adopt-a-senior program to send holiday cheer to someone in a local nursing facility, and adopt-a-meal opportunities to provide a meal for someone.
This year, however, the church moved the Hope House campaign to February, and it’s become “Hearts of Hope.”
“There’s so much going on at Christmastime,” Schulenburg said. “We decided to move it to Valentine’s.”
People take a heart-shaped tag from the tree, buy the gift listed, and bring it back to the church. The Rev. Jason Taylor, in announcements Sunday morning, said Hope House is the church’s mission of the month for February, and at the end of the month the church’s Lutheran Women’s Missionary League will take the items to Hope House.
“It’s a way of us sharing the blessings that God has given us here at Zion,” Schulenburg said, “and reaching out so that others can feel the love of Jesus.”
YOU CAN HELP
Those who’d like to contribute items for Hope House can drop them by the office of Zion Lutheran Church, 6513 W. CR 300S, New Palestine, during February. Or drop off items, even beyond February, at Hope House, 35 E. Pierson St., Greenfield. The shelter lists these items, always needed for residents, on its website: twin XL sheets, toilet paper, paper towels and non-perishable food items. Call program director Karen Newell at 317-467-4991 for more information.