The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

March 15, 2013

Church drop-in provides homeless, others a social place to gather

(Continued)

MANKATO —

Farnham said a few trends have emerged in food consumption. They don’t like the fancy stuff, he said. A church member who has donated money and food for the program, sometimes bakes fresh scones. But those get passed over in many cases in favor of a more traditional cinnamon roll. Oatmeal also hasn’t gone over well.

Darryl Thompson is among those who come daily. Thompson can be seen around town with his faithful companion of 15 years, his dog Joe. He said he tries to help the church out by picking up garbage and beverage cans that litter the streets that stretch past the church.

“I come here because he enjoys coming here,” Thompson says, gesturing to Joe. “I enjoy coming here, too. I like to socialize and saying hello to people.”

Marion Lichtenberg said she comes because she knows many of the people who come here have fallen on hard times. Many are homeless or struggling to make ends meet.

“When you’re alone,” she said, “eating by yourself isn’t fun. “We’re social people. Food isn’t the only thing a body needs.”

Farnham says the idea came from a book called “The Underground Church” by  Robin Meyers. The book, he says, is a call to Christians to take care of their neighbors.

Reading that book, he said, caused him to examine his conscience. That led to him and others brainstorming what they could do to help people who need it. The drop-in idea resulted from that.

The church plans to end the program by April 1, which is the same day the Salvation Army plans its annual springtime closing of the men’s shelter.

One demographic group not represented here are members of the church the program resides in.

Farnham says the program has been mentioned at services. Still, very few church members have come.

“That has been disappointing to me,” he said.

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