The Crestview Area Shelter for the Homeless is a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to offering services for the homeless and those in need.

The former parsonage behind First United Methodist Church houses this ministry, named Helping Hands. Helping Hands opened in April 2015 and provides services such laundry, showers, lunch; clothing; blankets, bedrolls, tents; backpacks, when available, and a bicycle ministry that refurbishes and loans bicycles to those in need.

The organization also offers the homeless assistance with:

•Medical services, prescriptions and transportation to doctor's appointments

•Help with obtaining identification or driver's licenses

•Filing for birth certificates

•Veteran's benefits

•Filing for Supplemental Security Income disability

•Social Security information

•On-site assistance for the

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps)

•Bus ticket information to help people return home

•Housing applications

•Job applications, job referrals, clothing for interviews

•Bridgeway Center assistance for those interested in drug detoxification and Alcoholics Anonymous

Hours at the Helping Hands center are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, and 1-4 p.m. Wednesday and Friday at 428 McLaughlin St., Crestview. Food stamp assistance hours are 9a .m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and Friday.

This facility also serves as a cold night shelter for an average of 10 to 11 people when the temperature falls below 40 degrees.

Currently several Crestview churches offer soup kitchens for the homeless. Locations include:

•Monday, Central Baptist, 951 Ferdon Blvd. S, 682-5525.

•Tuesday, Our Savior Lutheran, 178 North Ave., 682-3154

•Wednesday, LifePoint, 400 Ferdon Blvd. S, 682-3518

•Thursday, Community of Christ, 398 First Ave. W, 682-7474

•Friday, First Presbyterian Church, 492 Ferdon Blvd. N, 682-2835

•Saturday First United Methodist, 599 8th Ave., 682-2018

Donations are needed for this vital ministry. Crucial operating funds are needed for utilities, supplies, medical care, prescriptions, bus tickets, and housing costs.

Checks can be made out to "Crestview Area Shelter for the Homeless" and mailed to 428 McLaughlin Ave., Crestview, FL 32536, or dropped off when the shelter is open.

Additionally, there is a critical need for blue jean shorts for men in sizes 28 to 36. Gently used clothing for both men and women are always needed, in all sizes. Blue jeans, shirts, slacks, women's tops and shorts, socks, shoes and new boxers are also appreciated.

Used bikes are also always needed and volunteers are always welcome.

Call 398-5670 to help.

Janice Lynn Crose, a former accountant, lives in Crestview with her husband, Jim; her two rescue collies, Shane and Jasmine; and two cats, Kathryn and Prince Valiant.