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GROTON — Members of the youth group at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Groton are once again participating in CityReach, a program run by Ecclesia Ministries (St. Paul’s Cathedral) in Boston providing food and clothing for the homeless.

The SOV youth group first participated in this effort in the fall of 2010 and have enthusiastically participated each year since, with more than 100 teens and adults having participated in a winter weekend in Boston since then. Pastor Susan Gaeta, chosen as Shepherd of the Valley’s new pastor last fall, will be the adult leader this year.

This clothing drive focuses on the immediate and urgent need for winter clothing, especially needed are men’s clothes, with new underwear and white socks urgently needed. Every visitor who attends this CityReach program is invited to share in the bounty of clothing collected from the various congregations from around the state whose youth groups are represented, and each receives a new pair of socks as well.

This outreach to collect clothing for the homeless in Boston will continue through Sunday, January 22. Donations can be brought directly to Shepherd of the Valley at the Grange Hall at 80 Champney St. on Sunday mornings or to the Twombley home at 8 Otter Lane in Groton.

CityReach is an overnight urban outreach program begun in March 1996 for youth (with accompanying adults), young adults and college students from churches of many denominations. The program gives these young people the opportunity to learn firsthand about homelessness from people who have experienced it. Participants join CityReach staff in street ministry and offer hospitality, food and clothing. This is followed by sharing and reflection between the homeless and those young adults who have volunteered to participate. Participants arrive at 7 p.m. on Friday, are addressed by staff whom are experiencing, or have experienced, homelessness. They walk through the city guided by members of Common Cathedral and end the evening with a simple worship service on Boston Common.

Participants sleep at a local church and on Saturday morning, they offer clothing that they have collected, as well as a simple meal, to guests who come to “shop” for clothing from among the donated items. Participants form teams for street outreach, taking sandwiches and clothing to people at South Station, Copley Square, Boston’s waterfront and other sites. Everyone then gathers to have lunch and reflect together about their experiences in light of the Gospel. They collectively write a prayer, and discuss the next steps for them personally and as a group, as members of the youth groups prepare to present their experiences to their home congregations.