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Nov. 10 through 18 is National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week. This event coming just a week before we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday presents us with reason to raise awareness of the plight of those who go hungry and who are homeless.

The National Coalition for the Homeless says that one in six American families lives below their respective poverty thresholds. Fifty million Americans live in food-insecure households, including more than 70 million children who go to bed hungry nightly. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2010 annual report to Congress, each night there are approximately 770,000 people in the U.S. who are homeless. The U.S. Education Department reports that, for the first time, the number of homeless students in America topped 1 million by the end of the 2010-2011 school year.

Calvert County is not immune to these problems, but the faith community in Calvert can always be counted on to lend a hand when help is needed. Safe Nights of Calvert County Inc., a product of the Calvert Interfaith Council, is one example of the faith community coming together to give aid to those most vulnerable.

The Almanac says we are going to have a cold winter this year, unlike the record-breaking warm winter of last year. In preparation for a normal winter, Safe Nights of Calvert County will once again provide shelter for the homeless. Through the combined generosity of 20 host churches, with the help of 20 assisting churches, we will hold weekly shelters beginning Nov. 11 through the end of March or early April.

Each host church provides a warm place to sleep, a morning meal, a bag lunch and an evening meal. The shelters are open seven days a week from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., and transportation is provided from Prince Frederick to outlying churches and back again. Potential guests of Safe Nights must register by calling 443-486-8670 to schedule an appointment. Registration will begin Nov. 5.

We wish to thank all who have helped to provide the basic needs for those who have no home. It is only with the generosity of the churches, the hundreds of volunteers and community donations that Safe Nights exists. Safe Nights is an approved nonprofit 501(c)(3) program, and operates entirely with volunteers. While we keep costs to an absolute minimum, we appreciate donations that help with the cost of gas for transportation and replacement of supplies. If you wish to make a donation, please send it to Safe Nights of Calvert County Inc., P.O. Box 3707, Prince Frederick, MD 20678.

Joseph S. Zaversnik, Prince Frederick

The writer is president of Safe Nights of Calvert County Inc.