Decatur - One can tell how cold it is after brushing snow off a car or shoveling the driveway, but imagine having to sleep in it. Homeless shelters are seeing a spike in the number of people needing a bed as outdoor temperatures become unbearable. The Salvation Army in Decatur is one of many shelters dealing with a sudden influx of people in need. Jeff Mueller, the director, says they've received dozens of new residents.
"We opened up late fall and it was kind of up and down, up and down. Then when this cold snap hit, we had a an extra 25 to 30 guys immediately.
So how are they accommodating the new guests? It's called the Cold Weather Cot Program. The leaders of the shelter transformed one of the conference rooms into a bedroom large enough for 30 sleeping cots.
"We add these guys into our regular shelter which we already have about 33 guys under the roof," said Mueller. "So by the time this is all said and done we could have about 50 to 60 guys under this roof."
Evan Mitchell is one of them.
"This place saved me from having to be out homeless in the cold."
But the men's shelter doesn't just give these guys a place to sleep, they help them get off their feet.
"They've helped lead me to job leads," said Mitchell. "They've helped me to find schooling."
Even though the residence is doing the best it can. Mueller says caring for double the amount of men they are used to has created a few obstacles.
"We struggle to have the money to feed them, to have the money for toiletries."
But of course, there is always a way for members of the community to help.
"You know just as much as stopping by and dropping off some groceries or stopping by and dropping off some toiletries," said Mueller.
If you want to take advantage of this opportunity, you still have time. The Cold Weather Cot Program doesn't end until temperatures are consistently over 40 degrees.
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