Faith leaders plan camping gear distribution for homeless

Submitted by Patrick Murfin
Posted7/10/2020 12:39 PM

The Faith Leaders of McHenry County and Compassion for Campers will offer free distribution of camping gear and supplies for the homeless twice this month. Bethany Lutheran Church will host the first event on Tuesday, July 14, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the church parking lot, 76 W. Crystal Lake Ave. in Crystal Lake.

First United Methodist Church, 3717 Main St. in McHenry, will host on Tuesday, July 28 during the same hours. Additional distributions may be scheduled later in the summer.


Distribution of supplies will be drive through/walk up with face masks required, social distancing observed, and no gathering. Among the supplies available while they last will be tents, sleeping bags, tarps and pads, coolers, mosquito repellent, sun screen, hygiene products, other sundries, and nonperishable food.

Many homeless persons in McHenry County ordinarily camped over the summer when PADS church sites were closed.

But this year due to the coronavirus epidemic there are more than ever. PADS is only taking in their already registered clients at their newly opened year-round shelter and have strict limitation on even those clients.

A McHenry County Department of Planning and Development program that put up nearly 70 homeless individuals in local hotels ended July 1 when funding expired. Although TLS Veterans Service, Home of the Sparrow, and Turning Point have been able to take some cases, most of the former hotel guests had nowhere else to go.

Some may use Social Security, disability, or unemployment benefits to get a room for part of the month. Others may have seasonal or part time jobs but not make enough money to afford housing. The COVID-19 emergency makes finding help from family and friends or couch surfing more difficult. Some will sleep in vehicles. Many will be forced to camp.

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The Faith Leaders of McHenry County is an informal group of clergy serving local congregations or as chaplains as well as lay leaders and volunteers. The group came together to share wisdom, experience, positive community action as the COVID-19 epidemic arose. It has also taken up the issues of racism and privilege brought to the fore by the Black Lives Matter Movement and the protests in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd and other persons of color. It is also now addressing homelessness.

Compassion for Campers is a program founded by the Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation in McHenry which has been serving the homeless every summer for the past eight years. Monetary donations from the Faith Leaders and their congregations have been added to Compassion for Campers funds to purchase the gear.

Additional donations can be made by sending a check made out to Tree of Life UU Congregation with Compassion for Campers on the memo line to the church at 5603 W. Bull Valley Road, McHenry, IL 60050. Compassion for Campers fund is a dedicated fund and no donations to it can be used by Tree of Life for any other purpose. The church absorbs all administrative expenses so 100% of donations will be used to aid the homeless.

For more information, contact Patrick Murfin at (815) 814-5645 or email

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