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Local support center partners with schools to collect food for shelter

Nonperishable food collected from the Hazleton Area School District
New Roots
Nonperishable food collected from the Hazleton Area School District

Volunteers and employees from New Roots Recovery Heartwood Center collected four pallets of nonperishable items from the Hazleton Area School District Wednesday.

“We are grant funded. So every donation that comes into our center helps," said Kerri Scheitrum, the organization's regional director.

New Roots partnered with the school district to hold the food drive. Students from this district’s 13 schools were asked to bring in a nonperishable item in exchange for a dress down day. The drive also recognized National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week which ended Sunday, Nov. 20.

The food collected in a rented truck will be used to prepare hot meals at the day shelter at 100 South Wyoming Street in Hazleton. The day shelter is open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“We also help those that are just struggling that may ... have their own home and stuff and just, you know, their income and their food stamps aren't lasting throughout the month," said Scheitrum. "They can come to the center and have a hot meal for lunch. We also have a food pantry there."

The pantry sometimes has frozen food and meat, said Tamear Henegain, the housing and resource coordinator.

The Heartwood Center opened in March 2021, filling the need for a day shelter for those experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness in the Greater Hazleton Area. The center outgrew its original space and moved to its permanent location on South Wyoming Street in Spring 2022.

New Roots started in Wilkes-Barre in May of 2019 to provide hope and support to individuals with a Substance Use Disorder and their families. In June 2020 they opened a center in Hazleton, followed by one in Tamaqua in December 2020. The nonprofit Willow Foundation started in 2021.

“We meet people where they're at … as soon as they walk through that door we find out what their needs are and get the resources that we need to help them as fast as we can as soon as we can," said Henegain.

For more details, visit newrootspa.org.

Kat Bolus is the community reporter for the newly-formed WVIA News Team. She is a former reporter and columnist at The Times-Tribune, a Scrantonian and cat mom.