LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – While many Louisiana residents are bundled up in the freezing weather, Freedom World Ministry Church on 1816 Moss St. has opened their building to be a shelter for people experiencing homelessness. 

“With the cold weather coming in and temperatures dropping below what we normally experience here. The homeless population really didn’t have anywhere to go,” said Shauna Sias, a community activist. “We still need blankets, hot food, clothes, socks, water beverages, things like that. Even you know bathing supplies, toilet paper. Things like that, everything that you can use at your home. These people need it here as well.” 

Money donations are welcome as well. Sias added, “if you can’t send a dollar, send a prayer or tell someone about the ability to be able to give. It takes a lot to feed one’s family. So just imagine feeding 30, 40, 50 people in addition to your own.”

“The village is missing, you know parts of the village are not stronger as the others, and our homeless population is the unstrong part right now. So it’s imperative that we all come together and ensure that they stay safe,” Sias said.  

While Pastor Lawrence Levy opened up the church’s doors, the community still needs to come in and assist the people in it, as the building can occupy about 300 people.

“I wouldn’t think that he would turn not a person away,” she said. 

The church also has male volunteers who have been staying overnight.

“If they need to talk or pray together, sing together, fellowship together, even though they are only here for a short time. You can absolutely change your life in the process.” 

She also told News 10 how she met one of the gentlemen there, a former inmate and addict. 

“Pastor Levy welcomes those kinds of people here, and he’s just excited that he’s able to give back and help those that don’t have a home. That don’t have a place to lay their head; that’s warm at night. Those are the people he helps in the community, and to him, no one should go without, no matter your stature.” 

News 10 spoke with one who has been experiencing homelessness for several years. The person wishes to remain anonymous but said the church has been the “biggest blessing” to all of them. 

“It’s a time for us to rethink our lives. Maybe start anew. Try to follow that different path we have been looking for,” they said. 

In such a difficult time, they said that they stay uplifted by those who have helped them. 

“Just seeing them happy makes me happy and gives you a sense of hope,” they said. “We are to be a prisoner of hope. When you’re this homeless, you lose all that hope. There is no hope for you. You don’t feel like Jesus will reach you where you’re at, and these people that just come out and their blessing and their joy and their holiday spirit and sometimes the way they dressed in holiday get up, giving you the sense that there is hope out there. This is the Christmas season. There is a reason for me to be happy.” 

The church will have its doors open until Sunday. There will be a Christmas service Sunday at 10 a.m.

Donations can be sent to the church or monetary donations on Cash App: $FWMWORLDWIDE, Zelle: PastorLevyII@gmail.com or Lawrence3rd/PayPal.