A church in Massachusetts has donated 200 backpacks full of various supplies and Bibles to two police departments to aid the local homeless population.
LifePoint Church of Chicopee, a congregation with around 1,000 worshipers, donated the backpacks on Wednesday to the police departments of Chicopee and Holyoke.
Matt Whitacre, LifePoint’s worship and creative arts pastor, told The Christian Post that the police have a way of distributing the backpacks to the needy.
“The idea is that officers will carry these packs in their cars, and when they come across or have a call involving someone from the homeless community, they can give it to them,” said Whitacre.
“This is important because it helps the homeless community know that people care about them and are thinking about them. It also helps build goodwill between the community and the police force in a time where it’s very difficult to be in law enforcement.”
Each donated backpack contains a Bible, blanket, antiseptic wipes, deodorant, hoodie, hat, gloves, toothbrush and toothpaste.
“We want people to know that their generosity is truly making a difference and changing lives. It’s an amazing and tangible way to be the hands and feet of Jesus,” Whitacre added.
The Chicopee Police Department posted a short statement on its Facebook page Wednesday, giving LifePoint a “big thank you” for the “generous donation.”
Earlier this year, LifePoint raised $15,000 to give each employee of a local hospital a $10 Dunkin’ Donuts gift card as a way of showing their support for healthcare workers.
According to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, as of January 2020, Massachusetts had nearly 18,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given day.
The USICH notes that during the 2018-2019 school year, an estimated 24,700 public school students in Massachusetts experienced homelessness during the academic year.
In April, an annual homelessness census found that while overall homelessness was down in Boston, unsheltered individuals were on the rise, likely due to COVID-19 pandemic concerns about sheltering in groups.
A one-night count on Jan. 27 found 1,176 single adults staying in emergency shelters, a decrease of 417 from the year before. However, the number of unsheltered people sleeping on the street on the night of the census increased 25.9% to 170.