Local organizations help shelter people from winter weather - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Local organizations help shelter people from winter weather

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Local organizations in Chattanooga stepped in this week to help shelter people from the harsh elements.

For several nights, the Community Kitchen's overnight shelter was at capacity and called on other agencies to help.

But that help comes at a cost.

"Fortunately, because of the great community support we've been able to be open actually every day since December 9," said Jens Christensen, Executive Director. Community Kitchen.  

Chattanooga Community Kitchen Executive Director Jens Christensen says this week's extreme winter weather had many in the homeless community seeking shelter.

"The true danger of being outside, especially when it's wet, is that hypothermia will sneak up on you. And you don't really realize you're getting exposure that might lead to death," said Christensen.  

Many nights, the overnight shelter was at capacity, with more than 160 people.

"On average a cold weather shelter usually costs between $5 - $8 a person who spends the night," said Christensen.  

The shelter called on other agencies, like the Salvation Army to help.

Friday and Saturday night, the Salvation Army opened an overnight shelter.

"Each night we've had about 40. We said we'd take about 60 men. So that would kind of free them up a bit to be more effective over there," said Capt. Aaron Goldfarb, Chattanooga Salvation Army.

 On average, it costs about $1,000 a day to run its day shelter and an additional $500 for an overnight shelter.

"It takes several, thousands of dollars and several hours of volunteer hours," said Goldfarb.

While both organizations welcome donations and depend on the generosity of others, they just want people to know they have a safe place to turn to.

"But it's not about the money. It's about actually saving lives and hoping that people have a safe place to come inside," said Christensen.

 Just ask Danny Headrick.

"The kitchen got me help with a wheelchair and medications and I've been well blessed and taken care of," said Danny Headrick, Staying at Community Kitchen.

He and others are thankful for the support.

"I would have froze to death. I would have froze to death. That's why I say it's a blessing. Shelter, it's a blessing to all of us," said Headrick.  

On top of monetary donations, the Salvation Army says it welcomes donations of coffee, toiletries, and new heaters for its low-income assistance program.  

The Community Kitchen also welcomes 24-hour bus passes to help people get to job interviews, as well as other cold weather supplies.

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