Durham Rescue Mission works to keep homeless warm during cold snap

Crews from the Durham Rescue Mission scoured the area on a race against frigid temperatures.
January 3, 2014 2:06:45 PM PST
With temperatures tumbling into the teens overnight this weekend, volunteers took to the streets Friday looking for homeless people at risk, and giving them a warm place to stay.

Crews from the Durham Rescue Mission scoured the area on a race against frigid temperatures and dangerous wind chill.

"I've seen men frostbit. I've seen men near death," said Rev. Rob Tart, the Chief Operating Officer of the Durham Rescue Mission.

The teams checked woods and the backsides of buildings -- anywhere the homeless might gather.

"You know the homeless community doesn't really keep up with the weather and they often can get flat-footed in a time like this, and this is the kind of weather that can kill people," said Tart.

The volunteers are inviting the homeless inside for a place to get out of the elements. It's all part of Operation Warm Shelter. Clients are given coats, gloves, clean clothes and hot food.

"It's the best thing I ever did," said client Gavin Clap, who checked in last week when the cold became too much to bear. "It's not very fun trying to find a place to stay like on an abandoned porch or under the eve of a house, just wherever you can get out of the cold."

The mission is already housing nearly 450 people. The beds are filling up, but they won't turn anyone away especially this week when the weather can be fatal.

"Come on in. Get out of the weather," said Tart. "We'll take them. We'll get them through the bitter part of the cold, and what they want to do after that is up to them."

The doors at the Durham Rescue Mission are open to anyone.

If you'd like to help feed the homeless, officials say all it takes is $2.05. Click here to donate.

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