Volunteer group scrambling to get homeless in emergency warming centers
ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)– Emergency warming centers were open for a 7th night in St. Louis Wednesday, with plans to stay open for at least 3 more.
This, as St. Louis Winter Outreach volunteers scrambled to get the homeless out of this potentially killer cold.
The more than 100 cots at the City of St. Louis’s center at Kingdom House at 11th and Park were full.
There were still plenty of blankets and room on the floor.
“I’m always afraid that someone’s going to die tonight; what a loss to us all,” said St. Louis Winter Outreach coordinator, Teka Childress.
More than a dozen volunteers met at Mokabe’s Coffee Shop at Grand & Arsenal before heading out into the cold to find the homeless and bring them to the warming centers.
They rounded up supplies like donated hats, gloves, and blankets. They also mapped out a plan to hopefully find everyone, even those who might not want to be found.
Addie Brennan and her friend, Grace, a couple of 6th graders from Wildwood trekked into the city to help those too often unseen by those who too often look away.
“I wouldn’t feel that good. Saying no to something like this, I just wouldn’t feel good inside,” Addie said.
“Over the years we’ve found places where people would sleep. The more often you do this, the more often you start to look at places and say ‘I think I would sleep there’,” Childress said. “People will find places where they’re safe. They try to find places out of the wind. They try to find places where the police won’t move them.”
She escorted a Fox 2 crew in and around Soulard looking for homeless people trying to make it through the night.
One area was especially troubling.
“We’re near where a man died 2 years ago, a man named Mike. There’s kind of a tunnel under the highway nearby. This year we saw a fire burning. We didn’t see anybody under there the [last] night we checked. So we’re just checking again to see if anybody’s under there,” Childress said.
She estimated 300 homeless in the city would end up in warming centers Wednesday night; dozens of them solely because of St. Louis Winter Outreach volunteers and the warmth of outstretched hands bringing lives in out of the cold.
A city official said the Kingdom House emergency warming center was open only 13 nights last Winter, all of them after January 1.
Mokabe’s is accepting donations of hats, gloves, and blankets for St. Louis Winter Outreach.
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