GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - From the first night it opened, Penny Peterson has found protection from the cold at the Red Cross' emergency shelter.
"If it wasn't for this place, I'd be in the car," Peterson said. "I really appreciate the Red Cross, the shelter, the fire department and everything they did for us."
She is among the nearly 90 people the Red Cross has seen over the few days, that according to Executive Director Joshua Joachim.
The shelter first opened on Monday night. As the number of people grows, so does the cost to keep everyone warm and fed.
"We have cots that are $50 a piece, blankets that are $6 a piece, the food cost, coffee, supplies, those things can add up very quickly," Joachim said.
Sunday night, the Red Cross got some help from firefighters with the North Woolmarket Fire District. The menu included spaghetti and meatballs and salad.
"They [the people in the shelter] wanted to come back for seconds; They really enjoyed it," North Woolmarket Fire District Chief Charles Wise said. "The neighbors came together to help do this, and we brought their children with them so they can see how fortunate we are."
It's not just the homeless who come to the shelter; there are also families. That's why Red Cross workers say the more help that comes in from the community, the more help it can provide.
"We could really use some help and support from our community in both dollars and time," Joachim said.
The Red Cross plans to keep its shelter open through Wednesday morning. If you'd like more info on how you can help, you can call the Red Cross at (228) 896-4511.