Every weekend for the past 20 years, Karl Beardsley packs this van.
“Blankets and in this kind of weather, we take coats, hats and gloves. Warm clothes and sandwiches and hot coffee,” said Beardsley.
Joined by a handful of volunteers from Messiah College, they hit the streets of Harrisburg. “I like that you get to see Harrisburg in a different light. Usually you come during the day and you don’t get to see this part of the community and so it’s nice to come out and see a different perspective and serve as well,” said Lauren Long, a volunteer.
Helping the homeless through Bethesda’s Mobile Mission.
"A lot of people just got into a lot of hard circumstances so they're out here for a few months," added Beardsley, coordinator for the Mobile Mission.
"It makes me feel a little ashamed of myself maybe because I'm older than them and I should know more than not to be out here," said one man who didn't want to be identified.
He's relied on the Mobile Mission for the past four months. But for him, he says, it's not about food or clothing. It's about talking to someone and feeling like a normal person.
"It helps to talk a little bit more to a complete stranger because you feel that even though they'll judge you, it's kind of okay because maybe you'll never see them again. So you're willing to say a little more," he added.
It's through these conversations, Long says, they all learn about each other. "I've learned faith is a big aspect in a lot of their lives and I think it gets a lot of them through the cold days and nights," she added.
For Beardsley, it's become a part of his life; knowing that he's helped people transform their lives. "They used to be out there and they used to be homeless and they got restarted, you know life is good for them now."
It's their appreciation, Beardsley says, that's most rewarding. "I run into people at the supermarket, the mall or even at the church or somewhere, who have been out on the streets who come up to me and say 'thank you, you don't know how much that meant to me when you were out there.'"
Bethesda's Mobile Mission is in need of help. If you'd like to donate blankets, clothes or food, click on the following link: http://www.bethesdamission.org/ or call 717-257-4442.