The winter season so far has shaped up to be a busy one for The Bridge of the Penn-York Valley Churches, which has found its Helping Hands Furniture Warehouse emptier than usual.

The past month has been unusually busy at the warehouse, located off Broad Street Extension in Waverly, according to a release from The Bridge. Families have been coming to pick up items, and donations haven't met the high demand. "Right now, we are just about cleaned out to the bare walls," the release states.

Donations of usable sofas, beds, dressers, desks, tables, chairs and other furniture items will be accepted at the warehouse during its operating hours, 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Arrangements can also be made by calling (570) 886-1057.

Dick Friend, president of The Bridge, said that this winter has also been "a tough heating season" with cold temperatures. Luckily, the organization met its $25,000 fundraising goal during its fall Sleepout campaign for its heating assistance program, he said.

Friend couldn't provide an exact number because the organization receives donations not designated specifically for the program, he said. However, "I think we met or exceeded that goal," he said. "The community has really turned out and exceeded expectations."

The Bridge uses funds raised during the annual 24-hour Sleepout in front of the Sayre Theatre to provide heating assistance to low-income families in the Waverly, Sayre and Athens school districts, as well as funds collected for the cause through the end of the year, Friend said. This year, representatives of The Bridge made presentations at area churches and increased publicity for the drive to respond to an increase in need.

For more information about The Bridge and its programs, visit www.thevalleybridge.org or call (570) 888-8826.

Amanda Renko can be reached at (570) 888-9652; or email: arenko@thedailyreview.com.