Each year, one week before Thanksgiving, the National Coalition for the Homeless and National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness co-sponsor National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week.

For the past five years the event has been sponsored locally by the Frederick Coalition for the Homeless. The first day of the week, Nov. 16 this year, is designated as The Community Day of Prayer for the Hungry and Homeless. It's an idea former Middletown High teacher Joey Hoffman said was "incubated" at the Christian Science Reading Room on North Market Street.

Hoffman, a member of the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Frederick, was long involved in Middletown's service learning program.

"It enabled me to be in touch with the needs in the community and one of the things we worked on was helping solve the issues of hunger and homelessness," she said.

Hoffman knew of that community need, and National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week and the national organization, she said.

"We were brainstorming ways to address issues through prayer and thought that was what we could effectively focus on," Hoffman said. "And, we decided not just to do prayer, but also do tangible things, such as a winter clothing drive, a food bank, and a soup kitchen."

With as many as two dozen faith groups participating on Sunday, Hoffman said, local clergy and congregations are encouraged to address the issues of hunger and homelessness in prayers, sermons and inspirational readings that may help others pray.

Dinner for the homeless will be prepared Sunday by participating faith groups, including the Evangelical Reformed United Church of Christ, St. Katharine Drexel, the Unity Church, the Baha'i members of Frederick, the Islamic Society of Frederick, and Congregation Kol Ami of Frederick.

It will be served at 5:30 p.m. at the Frederick Community Action Agency on South Market Street and after the dinner, at 6:30 p.m., the annual InterFaith Candelight Prayer Walk leaves from the Community Action Agency.

Other events during the week include:

n a training session for cold weather and day shelters at 10:30 a.m. today, sponsored by Frederick's Religious Coalition.

n the Frederick County Coalition for the Homeless' monthly meeting from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Frederick Community Action Agency.

n Hope Alive's resident achievement banquet at Dutch's Daughter's restaurant on Wednesday;

n a fundraising rock concert on Friday at the Monocacy Valley Church in Ijamsville.

n the Help the Homeless Walkathon in Washington on Nov. 22.

The newest addition to the schedule is a first-ever "Sleep Out for Homeless Awareness," from 8 p.m. Nov. 22 to 8 a.m. Nov. 23, sponsored by the Frederick County Coalition for the Homeless at the Frederick Rescue Mission, following an afternoon information session at the mission.

Tommy Skaggs, director of the Frederick Rescue Mission, said The Community Day of Prayer for the Hungry and Homeless not only helps bring the faith community into action to help those in need, but also highlights prayer as an important part of overcoming homelessness and the causes of homelessness for many men and women who come through the mission.

"Being a Christian and faith-based mission everything we do is grounded in prayer," Skaggs said. "The No. 1 cause of homeless is substance abuse and our life recovery program is a 12-step program with a spiritual component that is very important to recovery.

"Prayer is the way to hope for every person that comes in here. That's what gets them through day-to-day. Early on, it's often what gets people through minute-to-minute."

IF YOU GO

  • What: InterFaith Candelight Prayer Walk
  • Where: Frederick Community Action Agency, 100 S. Market St.
  • When: 6:30 p.m. Sunday

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