Relief Organizations Ready For Freezing Temperatures

According to some estimates, there are about 800 homeless men, women and children in South Mississippi. One freezing cold nights, many will seek shelter. Some, will not.

At Gulfport's Salvation Army shelter, they typically have 50 to 70 people staying there. Tuesday night that number will be considerably higher.

"Anywhere that people can pull up a blanket. If we run out of cots we will have blankets on the floor. We will not turn anybody away tonight," Heather Fobar said.

Fobar estimates they will probably have twice the number of people on a typical night.

The story is much the same at the Gulf Coast Rescue Mission off of DeBuys Road.

"We are at about 40 right now, but we are ready to handle as many as people as need to come in. We can sleep 200 if we have to," Rev. Tom Mims said.

The Rescue Mission and the Salvation Army plead with the street people to come in on nights when cold temperatures can be deadly. But many times, those pleas are ignored.

"Most of the time out there, you sleep with whatever you can find, cardboard, anything," Bill Scofield said.

Scofield spent many a night outside in subfreezing temperatures. Tuesday night, he will be at the Rescue Mission, but he knows many of his friends will not.

"I would say nine out of ten will stay out on the streets tonight... probably because of alcohol or drug dependency," Scofield said.

"What is frustrating is there are some out there that know we are here, that know there are other organizations here, and still choose to place themselves in danger. That is what frustrates you. You don't understand why," Mims said.

The Salvation Army can always use your help. During the winter they especially appreciate donations of items like coffee, hot chocolate, blankets and gloves.