Cold weather shelters rely on community help

Cold weather shelters rely on community help

D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - Colder weather means more and more people will soon be needing a place to keep warm. Several shelters across the coast are preparing to open their doors, but they can't do it alone. These shelters serve different functions throughout the year, from soup kitchens to storage.

So, before cold weather strikes, steps have to be taken to get them ready to provide shelter again. A lot of the preps rely on the community.

That's certainly the case for Harrison County's Shelter in D'Iberville. Last winter, the coast saw record low temperatures.

"We could be looking at the same thing this year. So we wanted to make sure we were ahead of the curve," said Harrison County Supervisor Windy Swetman.

According to Swetman, being prepared is key when it comes to providing safety for those who need it.

"We actually started preparing about two weeks ago, looking at temperatures as they were starting to drop and as we were getting into the season," said Swetman.

He expects the temperatures will be low enough to require shelters at the end of the week. This means the shelter in D'Iberville has to be ready to open.

"We scoot everything to the back of the room and we just line up beds and we feed people out of this area," said James Morgan motioning to a space by the south wall of the empty Harrison County Multi-Purpose Building.

Morgan is on staff with the Board of Supervisors, and plays an integral role in getting the building's doors open for the homeless. According to him, no tax dollars are spent on providing the shelter. The food and other supplies are donated, and the staff is made up of volunteers.

The community is the driving force behind keeping the doors open. Morgan says Seashore Mission in Biloxi usually provides the bulk of the food, but there's one thing the shelter's almost always short on.

"Coffee, we go through a lot of coffee and things like that because people are trying to stay warm. They're trying to stay awake," said Morgan.

He says donations are always welcome and he doesn't consider it a burden to help those in need.

"I would hope somebody would do it for me, if I was in the same situation," said Morgan.

This is the fourth year for the Harrison County Cold Weather shelter to open its doors to the homeless. Other organizations partnering with the shelter include Loaves and Fishes and the Coast Transit Authority.

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