Salvation Army cold weather shelter protects lives, saves souls

Salvation Army cold weather shelter protects lives, saves souls

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Salvation Army shelter in Gulfport is a converted church, and has been offering service for years.

For so many people, it has literally saved lives. And for others, it's also saved souls.

It's Sgt. Jerry Casey's fourth winter on the Coast with the Salvation Army, but he's been on the other side of the story: homeless and addicted.

"I was at a loss. I had nowhere to go, and I didn't want to go anywhere. I was done. My hope was gone," Casey said. "And they did reinstall my hope, and since then, they put the power of Jesus in me and I'm going to do this for the rest of my life."

His responsibility is with those who are what he once was.

"It's really a peace that's beyond my understanding. And when I see that in someone, when they realize that there's hope, and someone actually cares, it just reunites it in myself. You know, they think I'm helping them, but I'm really helping me," Casey added.

Salvation Army soldier Jamie Richardson set a world record for bell ringing this holiday season. But three years ago, a street corner was his temporary home.

"I guess I just realized that I was doing things the way I wanted to and didn't have a good connection with God," Richardson said. "And I kind of realized that he had better plans for me and kind of got on to a path of doing the right thing. Now I'm able to give back and it's a great feeling."

David has been homeless since August. He prefers the shelter on cold nights rather than his tent.

"It's very nice. People here are very good. I've got nothing but nice things to say about them. You know? Door's open," David noted.

It takes about 14 volunteers for one night to run the kitchen, process the clients with breathalyzer testing, metal detecting and bed assigning. But there never seems to be a shortage.

The shelter is open through Sunday from 4 p.m. to 9 a.m.

For more information on how to volunteer or donate, visit the Salvation Army website.

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