Come gather as a community for the Ocean County Homeless Persons Memorial Service
This time of the year is the most challenging for the homeless population battling the cold/freezing temperatures, various weather elements such as snow, and longer hours where it's dark outside.
Many of them can't find or don't know where a shelter is, many of them sadly die from being out there in the elements, from illness, or even from just having no place to go.
It is truly a heartbreaking tragedy.
On Wednesday evening at 6:00 pm, several groups including the Ocean County Homeless Prevention and Assistance Coalition and Ocean's Harbor House are hosting the Ocean County Homeless Persons Memorial Service at Riverwood Park Recreation Center on Riverwood Drive in Toms River to remember those who have passed away.
"This is the first time Ocean County has done this," Tricia Bradly, Director of Programs with Ocean's Harbor House said. "Across the country, communities will be having this event as well and kudos to Ocean County for starting this. It's an opportunity for us to stop and remember our homeless neighbors who have died and to just pause and remember them."
It's also an opportunity to shine a light on the continued problem of providing food, resources, and shelter to the homeless in Ocean County.
"People who are homeless -- they die at a much younger age, I think they die about 20-years earlier than the national average because of the elements. It's just so hard on them," Bradly said.
This if the type of event that show how important it really is to do more to serve the homeless in Ocean County, because their life depends on it.
"It's incredibly important, especially in Ocean County where we don't have a homeless shelter and we're actively working to bring one to Ocean County," Bradly said. "We have people all over who are in need and are just like us who might be having a hard time scrapping up enough money or struggling with addiction or alcoholism or mental health or health issues."
There will also be an opportunity to find resources and assistance for those who need it and for everyone to learn more about the homeless in Ocean County.
"We will have a resource table available for folks, we'll also be collecting donations for folks who are homeless," Bradly said. "In terms of food, think about something that someone could carry in their backpack like a protein bar, maybe some peanuts, something with some substance, a can that has a pop top on it and non-perishable food. We're also collecting gift cards to Walmart or to Wawa would be great and in lower denominations so that we could give them to folks to help them with whatever their needs may be. We could absolutely use blankets -- our Code Blue shelters are in need of blankets, we always need toiletries and then, we always need coats and hats and gloves."