Church opens its doors as winter shelter, asks for more donations

ST. LOUIS – The bitter cold and potentially deadly temperatures are prompting several community efforts to help the less fortunate find a warm place to stay. That’s why a north city house of worship has opened its doors this weekend to anyone seeking shelter.

“Everybody deserves a warm place to stay at night and everybody deserves to have food in their stomach,” said Pastor Steven Shepard, St. Peter’s AME Church. “It’s part of our Christian duty to make sure that nobody is hungry, nobody is homeless, and nobody is naked.”

“So when I received the call, ‘Would I open up the church?’ and after I prayed about it and thought about it, I said ‘How could I say no?’ and I know firsthand what it feels like to be homeless and have to sleep in the cold.”

Shepard said that it’s the first time he’s opened up the church to be used as a shelter during the cold nights. He has space that holds 200 people on one floor and 40 people on another.

Both areas were being prepped with cots, blankets, bedsheets, pillows, and donated food items.

Shepard said all women, men, and children are welcomed, 24 hours a day. He added, even if there is no space available, no one will be turned away.

Shepard has been working collaboratively with Alderman John Collins Muhammed.

Muhammed said that the newest shelter to open its doors is just a temporary solution to a much larger problem.

“People can’t find jobs people have a hard time paying their rent they can’t pay their mortgage,” Collins Muhammed said. “And as a city we have to understand that.”

“The truth of the matter is that all of us are just one paycheck away from being in this predicament,” Shepard said.

“The people that opened their heart up to us in this city, and bring us blankets and bring us food, I just encourage those people to keep doing that,” said Donald Moore, who was staying at the church.

The temporary shelter also has a registered nurse on site for anyone requiring medical assistance.

You can help the church by volunteering for the next few days or donate items such as sleeping bags, blankets and bed sheets.

A monetary donation can be sent to https://www.paypal.me/PUplift

Pastor Shepard is also hosting a community forum this Sunday at 10 a.m., part of which will tackle issues such as homelessness.