CRESTVIEW — While there is no full-time, 24-hour homeless shelter in Crestview, there is a local effort to feed homeless and poor people throughout the week.
Crestview churches and organizations work together to provide soup kitchen services.
The church soup kitchens are all open from 11 a.m. to noon.
Food is served on this schedule:
•Mondays at Central Baptist Church, 951 S. Ferdon Blvd., Crestview, 682-5525.
•Tuesdays at Our Savior Evangelical Lutheran Church, 178 North Ave. W, Crestview, 682-3154.
•Wednesdays at Lifepoint Church, 400 Ferdon Blvd. S, Crestview, 682-3518.
•Thursdays at Crestview Community of Christ: 2781st Ave., Crestview, 682-7474.
•Fridays at First Presbyterian Church: 492 N Ferdon Blvd., Crestview, 682-2835.
•Saturdays at First United Methodist Church: 599 8th Ave., Crestview, 682-2018.
See http://bit.ly/2stAcnq for a Google map of all locations.
The meals feed those who are economically challenged, some of whom are homeless. Facilitators offer a safe environment to fellowship with other people, according to one volunteer, David Hill, who helps at the First United Methodist Church soup kitchen.
He said they feed about 60 to 70 people, of all ages.
"Sometimes we have babies in high chairs and sometimes we have senior citizens and everything in between," he said.
Getting involved was simple for Hill.
"I'd had experience with it when I lived in Atlanta, working in downtown Atlanta in a soup kitchen there that fed 500 a day, and when we came here I was working on the mission group for the mission team at FUMC.
"Some other churches were already doing that under Crestview Area Shelter for the Homeless, and we joined … them under the auspices of that organization."
He said when FUMC first opened its soup kitchen, having enough cooks participate was a problem. That is no longer the case.
"We have people from church and we have other folks just in the community that have volunteered and showed up to help with it, so that problem's really gone away," Hill said.
The soup kitchen outreach began in 2008, according to Ann Sprague, Crestview Area Shelter for the Homeless director.
"Some people at First Presbyterian Church felt called to open a soup kitchen. So they advertised and began serving in 2008. Then a group of people met to talk about how to help the homeless and needy in our area," she said.
"Then we began the cold night shelters. I went around to many churches to ask them if they would like to participate. Several churches responded and we began the soup kitchens.
"The soup kitchens are vital to the survival of the homeless. Often that is the only meal they have for the entire day," she said.
The food provided comes from various sources. Some churches foot the bill themselves, some people donate food, and there is an organization called Destin Harvest that brings food to area soup kitchens.
People who would like to help may contact the church they'd like to assist.
"Give them your name and phone number and they will let you know what time to come," Sprague said. 'You don't have to be a church member to volunteer — (you) just have to be a willing helper.
There is also a need for a Sunday soup kitchen location. Sprague said the problem is exacerbated by churches having services on Sunday, which makes it difficult to provide a meal that day.
"That soup kitchen would not have to be serving from 11 to 12. It could serve from 2-3 or 3-4 (p.m.). If anyone would like to do that and offer a facility where we could have it, they could call me at 850-826-1770," Sprague said.