With the cold temperatures sweeping across the Tennessee Valley, the Community Kitchen in Chattanooga, is opening their cold weather shelter earlier than usual for the homeless to stay overnight.

The kitchen offers three meals a day, year round. 

In mid-December, they convert the kitchen to a cold weather shelter for the homeless. That changeover is coming a month earlier than usual. 

"In weather like this it's about health and safety," David Costellow, the community engagement director for Community Kitchen, told Channel 3. 

Costellow says on the cold nights, they prepare to take in as many as 180 people.

"It's definitely a place where people can get warm out of the cold and not have to worry about sleeping on the street when it's in the 20's," said Costellow. "We want to make sure that people aren't being harmed or that they aren't literally dying on the street for the cold weather," said Costellow. 

Those at the Community Kitchen are not the only ones working to help the homeless during the cold. Just outside the front doors, a group was handing out quilts they made for Chattanooga's homeless.

"It's our heart. I think I speak for all of us," said Judy Hunt with Trenton First Baptist.

Hunt says they work all year long piecing together quilts and once a year they hand them out to people in need. 

"They're in our prayers all along. We think about them as we piece the quilts," Hunt told Channel 3. 

The Community Kitchen says they never turn their backs on anyone in need. 

"We've never had to turn anyone away. We always make room," said Costellow. 

Costellow says they are always accepting donations to keep people warm such as coats, gloves, and blankets. 

The Community Kitchen is located at 727 E. 11th Street.