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Pilgrim UCC in Anacortes helps with Project Homeless Connect

Fifteen volunteers of Pilgrim UCC in Anacortes have participated in Project Homeless Connect for five of its 10 years.

Pilgrim in Anacortes

Nelle Jacobson, Roger Ridgway, and Tom and Janet Miller give out backpacks.   Photo courtesy of Pilgrim UCC

At the one-day event in September 2016, the church and
volunteers gave 153 backpacks and 94 pairs of new socks to people who came.

Project Homeless Connect brings together many service providers in Skagit County at Mt. Vernon Community College.

Thirty-seven of the backpacks and all socks were purchased with proceeds from Pilgrim’s booth at Shipwreck Day in Anacortes. The rest of the backpacks were provided by a donation from the Foresters, a fraternal organization.

The church raised about $1,000 to provide the backpacks and socks by participating in Shipwreck Day, Anacortes’ community “garage sale” held on Commercial Ave., on the third Saturday of every July, said Marcia Neu, one of the volunteers.

Tom Miller, who volunteers with his wife, Janet, said Pilgrim started as volunteers at Project Homeless Connect, and then decided to sponsor a booth to give away backpacks.

“We have participated at least five times and have distributed backpacks twice,” he said.
“We also give out hygiene items such as toothpaste and toothbrushes.”

Project Homeless Connect draws 400 to 500 people seeking a variety of services offered for the poor and for homeless people in Skagit County.  People come through an intake area, where they explain what services they are looking for. 

A volunteer guide takes them to different booths offering those services.

“About 20 percent of the population of Skagit County are Hispanic, and many of them come to Project Homeless Connect,” said Tom. 

Among the homeless and poor people who come are many young people he noted.

“I’m surprised at the number of people who came,” he said, noting that the people are grateful for the services.

Some volunteers help in the kitchen to provide free meals.

To raise money for the backpacks, the church rents space for two booths in the middle of the main street during the Shipwreck Days.  Booths stretch for five blocks and the event draws thousands of “gawkers and buyers” to town every year.

Church members and friends donate items to sell at the booth.

“We sell most of the items we have to offer,” said Tom, who has been a member of the church for 20 years.

“Members of Pilgrim feel it is our civic duty to give back to the community. This is one of the ways, we carry out that commitment,” he said, “and it is also fun.  We enjoy meeting the people who buy things.”

It’s a long day, from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“We feel that as a church we need to give back to our community and to be part of the community.  This is a good way to connect with the rest of Skagit County, and is part of our commitment to the community,” said Tom, who is in his second year on the PNC Stewardship Committee and has also served six years on the Board of Directors and six years on the Committee on Ministry.

Pilgrim Church has also provided summer lunches for the Boys and Girls Club, donates monthly to the local shelter for women and children, donates monthly to the Salvation Army food bank and to other causes, such as the Anacortes 100 food bank.

“We try to distribute our gifts to the conference and locally,” Tom said.

For information, call 360-299-8165 or email


Copyright © February 2017 Pacific Northwest Conference United Church of Christ News


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