CRANFORD, NJ – The First Presbyterian Church of Cranford is seeking volunteers and donations for Operation Warm Heart.

Operation Warm Heart is a program developed by the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless, which helps find emergency housing for individuals in Union County from December to March. The First Presbyterian Church of Cranford chapter provides goods and services to these individuals, including a place to rest for the night.

“Operation Warm Heart is an emergency shelter that caters to those who may have no other options, many of whom are immigrants or have recently been released from prison,” Catherine Felgi, founder and organizer for the First Presbyterian Church of Cranford’s chapter, said. “Every time we have volunteers, I hope that their eyes are opened to the plight of those who are only a few towns over or, even more shockingly, some of whom they might even know or work with.  This particular chapter seeks to do more than just administer help to the body - food, shelter, clothing - as vital as those needs are. It also seeks to give a listening ear to the marginalized and, of course, a warm heart to those who are stigmatized by society in hopes that all, both volunteer and guest, will be transformed in the process.”

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There are multiple ways to volunteer with Operation Warm Heart, including making dinners, creating breakfast bags, spending time with the guests, sewing and purchasing healthier items like milk and fruit. Trained professional can offer basic medical care (i.e. blood pressure tests), legal advisement and hairdressing.

“Our chapter of Operation Warm Heart is unique because of the variety of services that we offer to the guests who come through our doors,” Felgi said. “Because of that, I strive to find a way for every volunteer, young and old, to help out.”

Those who cannot donate time are welcome to donate items including gently used clothing, sugar packets, canned sodas and juices, laundry pods, sewing supplies, pasta and vegetarian tomato sauce, disposable utensils and coffee and tea.

“Whatever help is offered, big and small, is always more than appreciated,” Felgi said. “All the volunteers have the immense ability to make a difference in all their tasks and help shape the life of someone who otherwise may have nothing. That, to me and I am confident enough to say to our guests who stay at the church as well, is the biggest impact we can make in this world.”

Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Felgi at 908-578-8500 or via email at Catherine.felgi@gmail.com. To donate food, call Carol Thee at 908-276-8440 to arrange a drop-off time.