Christians believes that many years ago, close to this date, a pregnant Mary and her husband, Joseph, sought shelter, but there was no room at the inn.
Today in Blair County, it seems others in need could face a similar plight of searching for somewhere to stay without success.
With the temporary closure in October of the Altoona Rescue Mission's shelter for men, the only other available shelter in Blair County that does not answer the needs of a certain niche - such as someone who is escaping domestic violence or someone in need of drug or alcohol rehabilitation - is Family Services Inc.'s 16-bed emergency shelter located at 2700 Eighth Ave.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
The Altoona Rescue Mission at 1308 Ninth Avenue was temporarily closed in October, diminishing the options for the area homeless.
Family Services Inc. also runs a teen and domestic abuse shelter.
Team Leader Bryan Lytle said the emergency shelter serves men, women and children on a first-come, first-serve basis. When there is no room, people must call back and check availability.
Some of the criteria to qualify for the shelter are being homeless or near homeless, medically stable, willing to accept its services and not be under the use of narcotics or alcohol.
Individuals' backgrounds are checked, Lytle said. Those seeking shelter are also assessed to see what problems they are struggling against. Referrals are done for mental health help.
It is a community effort to help those in need, Lytle said.
"The agencies here in Blair County work together on this issue," Lytle said. "We collaborate together. It's really amazing."
From July to November, the emergency shelter has served 83 individuals - 32 men, 34 women and 17 children, Lytle said. About 205 people who called for help were turned away because the shelter was full. Some of those are repeat inquiries, though. The shelter was not able to serve an estimated 122 people in that time, he said..
Lytle said he considers it more than just a shelter. It's a "home base," he said.
"There's a lot that goes on underneath this roof," he said. "We're really trying to address their needs, put the support in place."
Lytle said they have seen a slight increase in males calling since October.
Pastor Dave Ervine, Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center intake counselor, said that center has had maybe one or two more calls since the rescue mission shelter closed, but not a substantial increase.
The Salvation Army's 40-bed shelter is a rehabilitation center for those wanting to get off drugs or alcohol. Those getting help there must agree to go through a six-month program.
"There is a tremendous need for that shelter to be open, run and staffed," Ervine said of the Altoona Rescue Mission.
Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.