Help the Lehigh Valley Outreach Depot

I have too many subjects and not enough columns, so I’m going to cram three topics into this one.

First, I want to offer a plea for a terrific organization I’ve written about several times, but not lately.

It’s Lehigh Valley Outreach Depot.

This group was born in 2010 as a mission project of Wesley United Methodist Church in Bethlehem and relocated several years ago to a warehouse at 619 E. Allen St., not far from Dieruff High School.

It offers furniture and household items from which qualified people — referred by governmental and nonprofit agencies and arriving at half-hour intervals only by appointment from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Saturdays — can make selections according to their tastes and needs. Donors can drop items off at the warehouse or call 610-351-1616 to arrange pickup.

Outreach Depot is designed to help people who are reestablishing their lives after some devastating event or difficult personal circumstances. It also creates disaster relief kits of various kinds, all prepared by volunteers according to careful specifications and distributed locally and around the world as needed.

You can check its website,, for information about which items it will and won’t accept.

I’ve seen firsthand how efficiently and compassionately this organization helps people in need while also giving donors an opportunity to put their good quality but unneeded furniture and household stuff back to productive use. We’ve donated a couple of times, and I spent part of one Saturday afternoon helping to load a client’s truck with the furniture she selected.

Unfortunately, the depot is facing two problems. One, it could use more furniture. A combination of fewer contributions and heavy demand has cleared out much of the warehouse.

“The stuff goes out as fast as it comes in,” said volunteer Renee Hillman, who contacted me recently.

She said the warehouse was full just a few months ago, but when clients come in today, Outreach Depot volunteers have to apologize for the slim selection.

“We want to help as many people as possible,” she said, “but you can only work with what you have.”

When it faced a similar problem in 2018, my column spurred such a wave of donations that the warehouse filled up quickly. I hope it works the same way this time.

Their other problem is that the truck it uses for pickups is on its last legs, and the depot need donations toward matching two grants for buying another one, as well as to help with other expenses.

Checks should be made payable to Lehigh Valley Outreach Depot and sent to Lehigh Valley Outreach Depot, P.O. Box 373, Bethlehem, PA 18016.

Secondly, since I gave state Sen. Jarrett Coleman a hard time for his excessively self-promoting newsletter earlier this year, I would be remiss if I didn’t note that state Rep. Mike Schlossberg has topped him in at least one regard.

Schlossberg’s recent taxpayer-funded newsletter has more useful information than Coleman’s did. But it also has a whopping 18 photos of Schlossberg at various events, tripling Coleman’s six and far eclipsing the three photos of state Sen. Lisa Boscola that prompted a similar column many years ago.

Inflation takes many forms, I guess.

In Schlossberg’s case, the photos are thumbnail glimpses of events in which he’s participated, and the information is less self-promotional than Coleman’s contents, the most over-the-top I’ve seen over the years. Still, its main headline proclaims, “State Representative Mike Schlossberg, Fighting for You and Your Community,” which strikes me as more appropriate for a campaign mailer than something I’m paying for.

It’s just one more reminder of how many advantages incumbent legislators have over their challengers. As long as politicians’ newsletters are overtly promoting themselves, their campaigns should be footing the bill.

Finally, I’ll note that we’re nearing the finish line in this year’s 12th sort-of-annual Bulwer-Lytton writing contest. You have just one week to get me your first line of the worst possible novel. After that, I’ll be submitting the best of your offerings to the judges.

If this is the first time you’re seeing this, google my name and Bulwer-Lytton for a more complete explanation. Better yet, go to the website for the international Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, which contains previous winners going back many years. Our local version is a pale imitation, but it’s still fun, at least for me. My thanks to everyone who has sent me sentences so far. Our judges will have some tough decisions as they consider which is the best of the worst.

Bill White can be reached at [email protected]. His Twitter handle is whitebil.

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