40ºF

Local ministry hitting streets to hand out sleeping bags to homeless

ROANOKE, Va. – Lewis Sanders is making his bed. He's under a bridge in Roanoke. It's 20 degrees outside and the temperature is dropping. 

"I'm speaking for all the homeless, not only me. It's rough out here," said Lewis, who has been homeless for 12 years.

On Tuesday night, Lewis had help making his bed. One of the comforters came from Dawn Sandoval and The Least of These Ministry, a group that works to spread its love of Christ by hitting the streets armed with comforters, sleeping bags, gloves and gift cards. 

"Our hope is that they will see Christ in us and what we're doing and that it will bring them a little bit of comfort knowing that somebody cares," said Dawn.

Just about every night, someone from the ministry is out and about finding people in need of help. They stop in high traffic areas like downtown and more hidden areas like under bridges.

"There are people who suffer with social anxiety and mental health issues that won't allow them to go into a shelter environment so they choose to stay outside even as dangerous as it is with these low temperatures," said Sandoval.

The Least of These Ministry began in 2011 when Dawn said she and her husband were called to serve. The ministry runs completely on donations and community support. Dawn said so far Roanoke has been amazingly generous. She hopes the giving continues so the ministry can grow. 

"It has been beyond humbling the way that Roanoke Valley and even people outside of Roanoke have stepped up and seen value in what we do and supported our ministry," said Sandoval.

Dozens of sleeping bags and other cold weather supplies have been handed out in the past couple weeks. And on Wednesday night, as darkness hits and the temperatures go back down, Dawn and her team will again hit the streets to help the least of these.

"This ministry really helps. The sleeping bag kept me warm and she's a really nice lady," said Robert Bird.

The Least of These Ministry is working to raise funds for a new van or transport vehicle that volunteers can use to better reach people on the streets.

If you're interested in making a financial donation, click here and before you donate, make sure to select "The Least of These" from the "To" dropdown menu. 

If you're interested in making a sleeping bag or supply donation, click here to visit the Ministry's Facebook page.