As Indiana University of Pennsylvania students prepare for homecoming, so too are local churches in the Indiana community.
For the past decade, Grace United Methodist Church has hosted its Midnight Mission in support of IUP students.
This year, it will be held from 9 p.m. Friday to 4 a.m. Saturday.
The main objective of Midnight Mission is to encourage students to be safe while having fun by providing refreshments during homecoming, according to Philip Floyd, campus director of IUP’s Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru).
“It’s a place that they can take a break,” Floyd said.
Cru is “a movement of students on thousands of university campuses around the world who are seeking God,” according to iupcru.com.
Essentially, it focuses on meeting the spiritual needs of students while at college, according to Floyd.
The Cru ministry not only has connections to Grace United Methodist Church but to churches in western Pennsylvania as well.
This event is important to Cru because it wants IUP students to know that it cares.
“We care for their whole person,” Floyd said.
In order for the event to be deemed a success, Cru wants students to know that it supports them, and it will be there to help students if they are in need. Typically, there are around 30 to 40 volunteers for the event, with a mixture of college students and Indiana residents.
Volunteers for the event assist with setting up, cooking hot dogs, passing out food and drinks, interacting with students and helping with cleanup, according to indianagrace.org.
Food donations, such as cookies and brownies, are still needed for this year’s event. One can sign up to donate in Grace Church Downtown or Campus Welcome Center, according to indianagrace.org.
All donations must be dropped off in the church parlors by Oct. 2.
Future events hosted by Grace United Methodist Church geared toward IUP students and the Indiana community will be offered throughout the month of October.
Christ Episcopal Church at Ninth and Philadelphia Street is also joining in the homecoming celebration by providing free hot dogs and soft drinks for students, according to The Indiana Gazette.
Their message is similar to Grace United Methodist Church’s in that it wants to make its presence known and show students it cares about their well-being.
“We are just trying to be caring individuals,” said Catherine Ondo, senior warden at Christ Episcopal Church.
Christ Episcopal Church’s refreshment stand will be set up one hour prior to the homecoming parade and remain until the end of the event.
Students can contact Phil Floyd at Phil.Floyd@cru.org or 724-840-3094 for more information about the Midnight Mission.