Cold Snap Ramps Up Homeless Needs

Giving Back


The cold snap means the first real taste of winter on the Gulf Coast, and a serious threat to the health of those living on the streets. Agencies and nonprofits dealing with transient clients have seen a surge in demand for beds and blankets as individuals seek shelter from the weather—or just a way to better survive the week.

As soon as the National Weather Service forecast a cold front hitting the region, bringing with it nighttime temperatures in the 30s, Sarasota County officials announced it would work with partners to provide cold weather sheltering for those in need. The Salvation Army’s Center of Hope in 10th Street enacted its cold weather operation plan, opening its front porch opening at 4pm on Saturday. Grace United Methodist Church in Venice opened up at 5pm.

But for those who couldn’t, or chose not, to go to a shelter, various nonprofits in the region provided for those braving the cold. Bill Wilson, acting executive director of the Resurrection House in Sarasota, says there was significant demand in the last week for blankets, jackets and hats. While they quickly ran out of jackets, the charity at least had received a donation of blankets from the Notre Dame Club. “We had blankets to meet all the needs,” he says. The Resurrection House serves about 150 homeless individuals each day.

But Wilson said those living on the streets were reliant and resourceful. Few homeless individuals would sleep completely exposed to the elements. “Like all of us, they just want something to get through this cold snap, and are looking toward the end of the week,” he says.

Leaders say, though, that with a brush of cold weather hitting the area in early December, there’s barely been time to build up normal levels of supplies to help homeless individuals. Donations are being accepted at all toeless-oriented charities and faith-based partners addresses transient services in the region.

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