Cold Temperatures Have Community Rallying to Help Homeless

"We will not turn anybody away, so if we have to, we'll put them in the chapel, we'll give them a mattress," said Executive Director Mark Criss.

For many of the people at the Homeless Angels Street Store, it was the last chance to find something warm, before the single-digit temperatures moved in.

"Every night, my toes freeze," said Rene Gill, who stays at the Lansing City Rescue Mission.

It's a life Mike Karl lived several years ago. Now, with his organization Homeless Angels, he's turning around and giving back. The 'Street Store', offering free donated clothes, food and blankets, is his latest endeavor.

"This may keep somebody warm tonight," he said. "That's important."

Especially when you consider the effect cold weather can have, like hypothermia, frost bite and even death.

Volunteers of America is trying to get as many people off the streets as possible. This winter, it means record numbers and putting up extra beds in areas like the Daytime Service Center, which normally isn't for sleeping.

"We're grateful to be down to 86, last night," said Patrick Patterson, Executive Vice President of the VOA. "With single-digit temperatures, I'm sure the numbers will go right back up. It makes for a costly and difficult time for us."

Lansing City Rescue Mission is in the same boat. Already at capacity, it's ready to use every space necessary.

"We will not turn anybody away, so if we have to, we'll put them in the chapel, we'll give them a mattress," said Executive Director Mark Criss.

In the meantime, community members like Mike Karl are ready to help.

"Sometimes the shelters are full. We could be here with a warm smile, a t-shirt and a hat. If that's all we can do, we'll do it," he said.

Utility companies are offering heating assistance for those having trouble with their heating bills. The Board of Water and Light's program is called 'Pennies for Power'. Consumers Energy has a new program called 'CARE', this year. For information on how to sign-up, click the links below.


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