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One post: York countians mobilize on social media to help homeless

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

People walking past Farquhar Park might see several of its buildings dressed up with hundreds of articles of clothing, blankets and shoes.

Dozens of York County locals showed up to the 401 N. Penn St. park Sunday morning carrying bags of winter hats, scarves, coats and blankets to leave out for less fortunate residents in need of warmth this coming winter.

"There's a lot of homeless people that do hide and don't want to be known as homeless," said Anne House, who launched the project. "This is just one step we can take in keeping people warm."

Aaliyah Cooper, 12, and mom Michelle of Mount Wolf tie some of the hundreds of donated scarves, hats, jackets, blankets and more around the band shell at Farquhar Park for the homeless and less fortunate, Sunday, November 17, 2019.
John A. Pavoncello photo

House originally posted about the clothing drive to Facebook for her close friends and family. Her post quickly spread to other public York County Facebook groups, some boasting more than 15,000 members.

About 10 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 17, residents answering House's call for clothing arrived with arms and cars full of bags to donate. 

Prior to arranging the clothing drive, House contacted York City Mayor Michael Helfrich's office to get any necessary clearance for the event. 

"I just wanted to stop on my way to church to bless somebody," said Susan House of York as she hung donated socks, scarves, hats, jackets, blankets and more around the band shell at Farquhar Park for the homeless and less fortunate, Sunday, November 17, 2019.
John A. Pavoncello photo

"They cleared me and said we were totally free to do this," House said.   

Stefanie LaFountain and her sister bought hats, gloves and blankets for the clothing drive. 

"It's pretty cold out outside; I'd want to stay warm too," LaFountain said. "I love to help out, and I hope this keeps people warm — it's a really cold winter." 

Jessica Vu of York hangs some of the hundreds of donated scarves, hats, jackets, blankets and more around the band shell at Farquhar Park for the homeless and less fortunate, Sunday, November 17, 2019.
John A. Pavoncello photo

She added that she was surprised by how many volunteers turned out, noting it all started with a single Facebook post.

Mary Lehman knows the power of online posting and sharing all too well, as she manages her own public Facebook group, which provides free items in York County to those in need. 

The Dallastown resident saw House's post and knew she had to get involved.

"This has always been a small passion of mine, to help people like this," Lehman said. "All I did was reach out, and I got a whole carload full of donations." 

Hundreds of donated scarves, hats, jackets, blankets and more are hung around the band shell at Farquhar Park for the homeless and less fortunate, Sunday, November 17, 2019.
John A. Pavoncello photo

House said she aims to conduct future clothing drives this winter, with her next event on Sunday, Dec. 15. For more information, House requests interested volunteers contact her through her personal Facebook page.

She said she hopes to reach other areas in York City and other municipalities, such as Springettsbury and West Manchester townships, in future events.  

"I'm so proud of our community and the people who have already come out," House said. "If you look around, there's so many people here that have nothing but love for our community."

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.