Chilly temperatures bring people into cold weather shelter

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - On Tuesday night 49 people were at the shelter in Gulfport. This is the first time the Salvation Army has opened its shelters this season. The protocol for opening the cold weather shelter is anytime the temperature is 40 degrees or below.

When the doors opened at 4 Tuesday afternoon there was already a line of people seeking warmth. That's why they are accepting the help of the Salvation Army in Gulfport. Christopher McRae says he doesn't have a home. So when he learned it was going to be cold he knew had to find a warm place.

"Actually to keep from getting pneumonia or keep a cold from spreading diseases. And somebody else getting sick behind your cold," Christopher McRae said about why he decided to go to the shelter.

The Salvation Army transformed its chapel into a shelter, creating a room for the men and a room for the women. There are 65 beds at the shelter and typically every bed fills up when the temperature drops. Beyond providing beds, the shelter also has shower areas and Feed My Sheep served dinner.

Salvation Army officials said it costs roughly $5 to house each person for the night.

"And one of the most interesting things or one of the most important things about this service that the Salvation Army provides is the fact that this is ran all by volunteers,"  Salvation Army Director of Development Sara Miller said.

Those volunteers as well as this facility are appreciated by those in need.

"This is my first time being here, but y'all been treating me real well," said David Hlawati, who stayed the night.

"I'm just thankful they have a place like this to get out of the cold," Christopher McRae said.

Check out time at the shelter is set for 7 a.m. Wednesday. But that doesn't mean the people inside will be left out in the cold all day.

"We do, in the day from 8:30 to noon, we have our community fellowship open where the clients can come in and take a shower, get their clothes washed, have fellowship, fill out job applications and have a little coffee and stay warm during the day if it's cold," Miller said.

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