Shelters Prepare For Cold Weather

This weekend, more beds were being used at night at the Gulf Coast Rescue Mission. Thirty-three men sought warmth Saturday night at the Biloxi shelter.

"We average about 25 in the summertime, and then during the wintertime, it will go probably from anywhere from 35 up to about 100 on real cold nights," said Rev. Tom Mims, the director of the mission.

As the Coast grows, so does its homeless population. When the mercury drops, people on the streets depend on shelters to survive.

"It gets mighty cold," Mims said. "We've even had people on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the 15 years that I've been here that have lost their lives freezing to death out there."

The pews at Seashore Mission were filled with people worshipping God on Sunday morning, but in the next few months, when temperatures get dangerously low, Rev. Al Wallace will open the church at night for people who have no place warm to sleep.

"I would rather see them here in God's church and God's presence than going into an abandoned house or walking up and down the beach or just not having no place to go," Rev. Wallace said.

The lunch that's served after the service is the only meal some of these people will have all day. Living on the streets is tough any time of year, but it is especially grueling in the winter.

"It's very uncomfortable out there in the cold weather," said Floyd Welsh, who is currently living on the streets in Biloxi.

Pulling themselves off the street and out of poverty will be hard work, but agencies on the coast are available to help. People in charge of those agencies expect the next few months to be busy helping people who would otherwise be forced to spend their nights shivering on cold streets.

The Gulf Coast Rescue Mission and the Seashore Mission are always in need of donations. Reverend Al Wallace from the Seashore Mission says he especially needs blankets, food and utensils.