Homeless say they're grateful for shelter's help

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - By Doug Walker – bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - The frost that covered the South Mississippi landscape Tuesday morning paints a pretty picture. What's not so pretty is if you have to live outside.  It's a cold that can be dangerous.

That's why the Salvation Army shelter opens on nights like these. James Pilcher is the housing monitor.  He's busy cooking up a hot meal.  The job has its challenges.

"It's rewarding at times, but it can be hard also just to watch people go through what they have to go through," Pilcher said.

Wake up call is 6am, and people start to stir from their beds. Then it's time to eat what might be the only hot meal of the day. Olivia Stewart is grateful.

"They are just really good people and I thank the Lord for letting us come here," Stewart said.

The help that the Salvation Army provides is tangible. A hot meal, warm temperatures, and a cozy bed.  And some of the folks I talked to staying at the shelter say if it weren't for the Salvation Army, they might not survive.  One of them is Sharon Bell.

"It would be dire." Bell said.  "I would be freezing outside right now, honestly, if it wasn't for the Salvation Army."

Bill Johnson came to the coast two weeks ago looking for work, but hasn't yet found a job. I asked where he would be if it wasn't for the Salvation Army shelter.

"I probably would have slept in a car and ran the engine as long as I could," Johnson said. "That would have about the best I could do right now."

Before leaving the shelter, it's time to do a few chores to return the favor.

The help is appreciated, since the shelter is funded solely on donations and grants.

"Mostly by donations that people are giving us, that's the way we sustain ourselves," Shelter Director Marilyn Brister said.

If you'd like to help, either financially or by donating food or materials, call the Salvation Army at (228) 762-7222. The shelter is located on Nathan Hale Avenue in Pascagoula.

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