'We reached capacity last few nights': Wake County warming shelters in need of volunteers, donations

Akilah Davis Image
Tuesday, December 20, 2022
Wake County warming shelters in need of volunteers, donations
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Demand for warming shelters in Wake County are at an all-time high.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Demand for warming shelters in Wake County is at an all-time high. When the sun goes down and bitterly cold temperatures creep in, white-flag shelters take on the need if they can.

"We have reached capacity at both of our shelters the past couple nights," said Travis Compton, Wake County White Flag Operations Manager. "As sad as it is, some nights we have to tell people we just don't have room."

Sleeping quarters inside Open Table, one of the few white-flag shelters in Wake County, only have enough room for 50 people. They are people you probably never knew were struggling.

"People who have temporary encampment so they may have a tent, to people who are living in their cars. A lot of the people living in their cars are working-class people. They have jobs, it's just not one that pays them enough to be able to afford current rent rates," said Mike Gauss with St. John's Metropolitan Community Church.

Check the weather forecast here

According to Gauss, inflation is the blame for the increased need, and because demand is so high, volunteers are needed to help run the shelters. They're seeing more children this year, too.

"If you slept outside and it was 30 degrees last night and you may not have had breakfast this morning and now you're put in a classroom and expected to learn, your mind's not going to be in the right place," said Gauss.

How you can volunteer and help

Guests will be greeted with a warm welcome, a bagged meal and a cot. The need in Wake County is growing as staffers anticipate a long, cold winter. They say for some homeless veterans coming here isn't an option.

"They bed down in their tents. They deal with unique barriers like PTSD. Sometimes housing in a large room is very stressful," said Compton.