Helping the homeless ride out the storm

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By Kayla Vaughn

While everyone else is stocking up on supplies for the coming storm, Kevin Lilly asks that we all remember the homeless and elderly in our communities.

Lilly, founder of the Mobile Shower Ministry for the homeless, has been stocking his shower truck this week with more than 400 food packs, blankets and other supplies.The ministry serves Lancaster County, Rock Hill, Charlotte and other areas. Lilly also co-founded the Street Feet Ministry for the homeless.

“The sad part is, where can they go?” Lilly said when asked what the homeless population in Lancaster would do during the storm.

Lilly said the House of Provision Church, at 1886 Grace Ave., Lancaster, will open as a homeless shelter through the storm.

“It’s a small church, but as soon as they hear something’s going on, they start working,” Lilly said. “They’ve got mattresses set up in there now. They’ve got someone to stay with them overnight.”

Lilly said the hardest part of this job is going to be convincing some of the homeless to go to a shelter.

“Even though they know the storm’s coming, some of them don’t trust people,” he said. “Some of them have some habits and they are still going to want to use, and they can’t do that in a shelter. It’ll come down to, would they rather be safe from the weather or still be able to use.”

Lilly said he hopes to add to those 400 food kits and to distribute them locally wherever they’re needed.

He also has two washing machines in the shower truck, each of which handles up to 15 pounds of clothing at a time.

“It may not be a lot, but we can at least wash some underclothes for a family or something, and that can make a big difference,” he said.

Lilly said he and some of the other people who help with the ministry also have chainsaws ready to use if needed to clear a tree or debris from roads.

Lilly joined a small group from Antioch Baptist Church on Thursday to check on all of the elderly in the community, tying down things in their yards that might fly away and making sure they have what they need to ride out the storm.

He took to Facebook Wednesday, asking everyone to do the same.

“Please be aware of the elderly living around you that may be in need of help,” he said. “Do they need food or supplies? Do they need something picked up or put up around the yard or do they just need someone to comfort them because of being nervous or uneasy?”

Deborah Boulware with the United Way of Lancaster County said she has been working with the Salvation Army of Rock Hill to get some of the local homeless population into a hotel here in Lancaster.

She said the Lancaster Area Ride Service (LARS) is assisting anyone who may need to be transported to Rock Hill.

She said getting everyone out of harm’s way for this storm is a top priority for the groups.

For more information on how to find shelter for someone who is homeless, call the Street Feet Ministry at (803) 246-2725 or the United Way at (803) 283-8923.

Follow Kayla Vaughn on Twitter @kaybvaughn or contact her at (803) 416-8416.