Homeless shelter preparing for cold snap; needs donations to keep its doors open
You can feel it, the Tennessee Valley is on the verge of a cold blast of winter.
When you are outside, it does not take long for the freezing temperatures to make you shiver.
For the hundreds of people in Chattanooga without a place to stay, the bitterly cold nights can be extremely dangerous.
Local organizations are stepping up to help people in the community who don't have a place to stay overnight.
The Salvation Army has opened its emergency cold weather shelter this week to help those in need.
The Community Kitchen provides this service as well, but they are not opening until next month.
Right now, the kitchen needs donations to get the shelter up and running.
"You might be in the cold for a little while, but think about having to stay out like that for hours and hours and sleep in conditions like that," said David Costellow, with the Community Kitchen.
For Chattanooga's homeless, not having a warm place to go is their reality, and it's why shelters are opening up to help those who are often overlooked.
"Primarily, for health and safety purposes, because it really does become a matter of life and death," said Costellow.
The Community Kitchen said there is a lack of shelters in Chattanooga. They estimate 600 people are homeless in the area, but there is shelter space for only half of them.
When people show up, they are met with the basic needs and above all, a safe and warm place to stay.
"What they can also find is three meals a day, clothing, they can take shower, do laundry," explained Costellow.
Right now, the Salvation Army houses about 50 people, they keep their shelter open until December 14th, then they will switch and the Community Kitchen will open for overnights.
Both organizations rely on community donations to serve the many people that come through their doors.
"Generally $500 or $600 a night when you think about utilities, staffing and those kind of things, it can be quiet expensive," said Costellow.
The cold weather shelter is primarily funded by the Chattanooga Regional Homeless Coalition, but they need donations, including blankets, pillows, socks, and gloves.
If you would like to help donate, you can drop off items to the Community Kitchen downtown.
The Community Kitchen said they will keep watching the forecast and work with the Salvation Army to determine if they need to open the shelter sooner.
Community Kitchen location: