Compassionate Hands features 19 churches from across the county. Each church uses their building for one night each week to house and help the homeless.
Church buses pick up guests at three stops in Wilson County at 5 p.m. At 6 p.m., guests eat dinner and register for the shelter each night at Cross Style Church at 104 Trinity Drive in Lebanon.
After dinner, church buses take men and women to separate sites, where they can get a good night’s sleep in a safe environment. Each night, up to 18 men and 12 women may be housed.
At the host site, church volunteers read the shelter guidelines to guests. Some guests talk or play games, while others go straight to bed. Guests are able to use showers or laundry equipment. Lights go out at 10 p.m.
Church members volunteer at each site to take care of any needs the guests have. In the morning, breakfast is provided to the guests. A church bus then returns the guests to the pickup site. Volunteers clean the shelter after the guests leave.
The ministry, which began in 2013, runs Dec. 1 through March 15 each year and welcomes any support from the community.
In 2013, there were eight churches involved that provided 444 beds. Last year, the ministry helped more than 100 people.
The churches that participate in the ministry include College Hills Church of Christ, Cook’s United Methodist, CrossStyle Nazarene, Fairview Baptist, First Presbyterian, First United Methodist, Lebanon Cumberland Presbyterian, New Hope Cumberland Presbyterian, Salvation Army, Westland United Methodist, The Bridge Fellowship, Silver Springs Baptist, Faith Lutheran, New Heart Christian and Providence United Methodist.
According to Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto, the following are the biggest needs for the ministry:
• Volunteers to provide meals and snacks.
• Volunteers to stay in homeless shelters.
• Organizations with buses that hold at least 15 passengers.
• Additional churches to host six overnight guests one night per week.
Tax-deductible donations may also be made to any of the participating churches. Donations will help fund additional sleeping mats, which cost $85 each, as well as first aid kits and medical needs of the guests.
Other needed items, which can be donated to a participating church, include sheets, blankets, towels and washcloths.
For more information about Compassionate Hands, contact College Hills Church of Christ at 615-444-9502 or firstname.lastname@example.org.