Toledo steps up


In a world of scams, hustles, crimes, and misdemeanors, it’s easy to forget that most people are pretty decent.

St. Paul’s Community Center in Toledo needed about $13,000 to keep its winter emergency shelter program running through mid-March. The Toledo area responded with numerous small donations that added up to thousands of dollars, enabling the shelter program to keep serving the city’s homeless.

The program almost ended last month. On Feb. 13, Marcia Langenderfer, the center’s executive director, said the nonprofit would have to end its crisis shelter program within days. Closing the doors would have left dozens, maybe hundreds, of homeless people in the cold.

Forty or more people stay at the emergency shelter each night, sleeping on cots. The shelter holds about 50; if more come, St. Paul’s tries to make room for them. Adult men and women can stay at the shelter from 7 p.m. until 8:30 a.m.

More than 900 people stayed overnight at the shelter on 13th Street in January. Lucas County Mental Health & Recovery Services, United Way of Greater Toledo, and the Toledo Community Foundation contributed $39,000 to operate the program until mid-February.

After Ms. Langenderfer’s announcement, the Lucas County Economic Development Corp. awarded St. Paul’s a $15,000 grant, keeping the program open through February. Then a flurry of individual donations enabled the program to stay open this month, when night temperatures still dip to dangerous levels.

It’s not front-page news, but such small, anonymous acts of kindness say something good about the fabric of this community. Now, people facing hard times continue to have a warm place to sleep, a place to shower, soup and a sandwich for dinner, and a light breakfast before they hit the streets.

For that, they can thank a community that stepped up to protect some of its most vulnerable residents.