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Community Bands Together To Bring Christmas to the Homeless

The Westhampton Presbyterian Church will serve Christmas Eve dinner to 18 homeless guests.

The East End's homeless with be treated to Christmas Eve dinner and a warm bed at the Westhampton Presbyterian Church with the help of area restaurants, scouts and residents.

According to Lisa Finn, who is a coordinator for Maureen's Haven and a Patch editor, the church is expecting about 18 guests on Christmas eve and area restaurants have agreed to bring trays of turkey, pasta and salad for a feast.

Other residents have promised to bring gifts for the guests and Girl Scout Troop 2168, for the 7th year in a row, will be providing to-go lunches on Christmas day.

"We are so thankful for the outpouring of support from our generous community that will give our homeless a Christmas Eve filled with warmth and love," said Finn.

In its 11th year, Maureen's Haven provides overnight accommodations to the East End's homeless community through churches from Greenport to Riverhead and from Westhampton to East Hampton that open their doors, according to Tracey Lutz, executive director of Maureen's Haven Homeless Outreach program.

Since the non-profit program commenced in 2002 at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Hampton Bays, offering, at first, only one night a week to the homeless, it has expanded to seven nights a week, from Nov. 1 to March 31.

"We average about 43 guests a night," said Lutz. "So far, this season, we have seen between 75 and 80 different people."

Lutz said that the program is seeing a lot of new faces, which she says is a bit of good news because that means that those that have already been catered to have found housing and jobs either on their own or through Maureen's Haven, which has on staff case workers who provide job search assistance and other services.

But, she said, the state of the economy is bringing in a continuous influx of people every night.

"We have all different people, some who have marginal jobs," she said, adding that others were displaced after Hurricane Sandy.

And with so many needing warmth, Lutz said not only will Westhampton Presbyterian open it's doors on Christmas Eve, but so will the Grange in Riverhead. That location, she said, is expected to house some 22 guests on Christmas Eve.

On Christmas, St. Agnes in Greenport will be providing beds for an expected 40 guests, she said.

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