By Jamie Leary
DENVER — For the 10th year in a row, volunteers for “Christmas in the Park” handed out thousands of essentials to Denver’s homeless.
“We know we’re not changing homelessness we’re just trying to put some compassion into the world.” said Jerry Herships, founding pastor of After Hours Denver, a United Methodist church that operates in Denver taverns. “It’s families, it’s churches, it’s individuals, it’s bar owners.”
Herships, along with a small group of volunteers, started the grassroots effort 10 years ago. On Tuesday, there were 700 volunteers. A number that grows each Christmas.
“We tell families just to show up.” He said.
Many families have made it an annual tradition.
“Today is a day when you actually get to see what it looks like when people put more love in the world and more light. That’s a good thing. That’s a good day.”
This year there were around 850 homeless waiting in line. It’s a number that doesn’t surprise Herships. He helps Denver’s homeless on a daily basis and believes the population is growing due to the lack of affordable housing.
“Denver’s growing and it’s booming which is awesome but it’s more at the high end for housing and it leaves some of the folks at the lower end kind of in a bind.”
Herships says there is one thing people can do to help at a basic level, everyday;
“More than anything, the homeless need to be seen, they need to have eye contact. We told people in the park, ‘take off your glasses, let ’em see your eyes’ because so often they’re invisible.”
For more information about volunteering or After Hours Denver, click here.
Jamie Leary joined the CBS4 team in 2015 and currently works as a reporter for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. She couldn’t imagine a better place to live and work and will stop at nothing to find the next great story. Jamie loves learning about and hearing from her fellow community members, so connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @JamieALeary.