BY JILL WHALEN

The area’s homeless will receive a helping hand Sunday when the Valor Clinic Foundation hosts a “Stand Down” from the parking lot of the former Ollie’s, 702 W. Broad St., Hazleton.

“This will be our first one in Hazleton since we had to phase them out because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” noted Mark Baylis, who founded the Brodheadsville nonprofit organization.

The event, slated to begin at 10 a.m., will mimic previous stand downs. The only difference is that social distancing will be required.

“We kind of do a little thrift store for the homeless or the people at risk of becoming homeless,” Baylis explained.

Those in need will be able to pick up clothing, a hot meal, survival items and canned goods. Even though it’s summer, Valor will have a limited number of coats available.

“Everything is free. We hope to help the homeless veterans and we hope to give them information about housing,” Baylis said.

Valor focuses on improving access to quality of health care and shelter for veterans, and operates the Paul’s House homeless shelter in Kunkeltown.

For the safety of all, Baylis said those receiving services will be encouraged to spread out in a line.

“We won’t let them bunch up. If they don’t have a mask, we have them. We are trying to keep people safe,” he said.

The parking lot is large, so no one will be turned away.

“I will tell you that we will accept as many as they come,” Baylis said. He expects it to be busy between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. The event ends before 2 p.m.

Since it’s the first event after a few months, Baylis doesn’t expect the usual numbers.

“It will probably be half of what we are used to because there has been a break and people aren’t expecting this,” he said.

“Baylis said the pandemic is taking a toll on Valor.

“COVID-19 has been hard on us,” he said. The organization isn’t able to host group activities or fundraisers.

Donations are also down.

“You need fuel for the trucks and electricity for the homeless shelter. You can’t not pay for those things,” he said.

Valor plans to launch Spaghetti Sundays beginning Aug. 9 from its headquarters. Folks will be able to pick up homemade meatballs, sauce and pasta.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed” that the sales will be successful, he said.

Donations are also accepted through valorclinic.org.