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When Mater Dolorosa Roman Catholic Church was preparing to close its doors in the fall of 2012, the Rev. Shane Kirby, who pastored there for two years, spoke about the culture of its parishioners, their faith and the camaraderie they shared. He called it the of the Italian community.

United Churches of Lycoming County food pantry moved into the former Monsignor Francis J. Castellano Center in 2013, followed by United Church Shepherd of the Streets and, most recently, Little Ones Clothes Closet. Also, Family Promise of Lycoming County has moved its day center to the former rectory.

Shepherd of the Streets operates out of the former Castellano Center as it advocates with local agencies, law enforcement and correctional agencies to assist people in need.

The Rev. J. Morris Smith, who holds a doctorate in theology, supplies counseling and prescription assistance.

who are poor usually have been poor and sick for a long time, and only about half of the people who need medicine, have it, Smith said.

The ministry also has helped clients with copays when they visit the doctor to ensure they get the medical assistance they need.

In the way of employment help, Shepherd of the Streets will purchase clothing and accessories that people need to start their newly acquired jobs, but can afford yet because they were previously unemployed.

This includes scrubs for those in the medical field, non skid shoes for restaurant workers and OSHA approved steel toed boots for those whose jobs require them in order to even step onto the job site.

The ministry gives out personal hygiene kits to people in need and always is accepting donations to help build the kits.

UCLC pantry provides a three day emergency supply of food for a complete breakfast, lunch and dinner for each household in need of this assistance once a month.

Clients can call and schedule appointments at the former Castellano Center.

After operating out of four locations in the last three years, UCLC food pantry volunteers are happy to be working at the former Mater Dolorosa complex.

been in much worse places, Burkhart said. heat and windows and a fair amount of space here. a family appointment,
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pantry volunteers assess its needs.

they get is dependent upon their household size and what products we have here, said Gail Burkhart, pantry coordinator.

The pantry uses state and federal funds, as well as donations from the community to run the ministry.

Burkart said she very grateful of the secular and nonsecular groups that contribute through food drives throughout the year, including school districts and the Boy Scouts.

Wegmans Food Market also donates bread and sweets to the cause.

The food pantry provides support for 500 550 families each month, according to Burkhart. With the large number of those in need using this generous program, the ministry sticks to a strict system, keeping record of who comes in for assistance and how often.

are people who will abuse the system, she said. this is not a way of life. This is emergency assistance. the pantry is associated with UCLC, volunteers do not preach or push religion on the families that use the ministry to feed their families.

But Burkhart said her awesome and devoted volunteers provide more than just food for those in need.

people come in month after month and begin to build trust with us, they see the same faces and what a good life looks like what a life without drugs looks like, she said. to noon.

The newest addition to the charities operating out of the former Castellano Center is a free clothing boutique for children that is sponsored by St. Joseph the Worker Parish

Betty Cohick, the founder and director of the ministry that provides outfits, jackets and other accessories to children in need, opened Little Ones last June 17.

name is inspired by the story of Jesus and the little ones, said Addie Wright, who frequently gives her time to the volunteer run ministry.

The ministry provides clothing for newborns up to size 6, as well as blankets, bibs, stuffed animals and, Wright said,
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whatever is donated to the cause.