Salvation Army Gives Homeless Shelter For Christmas

Their Christmas Eve is like many people's, singing hymns at church to mark the holidays. But when they leave chapel, they'll return to a different kind of home.

"It's better than being outside in the cold and the rain, but I miss my family, it's kinda sad," shelter resident Douglas Martin says.

Martin has been at Pascagoula's Salvation Army about three months. The home was a last resort, but something he says saved his life.

"I have drank everything away, my life, my kids, my cars, my homes, I've had a little bit of everything. But alcohol has took it all away from me," Martin says.

Dozens of other are spending their Christmas Eve in the warmth of the shelter, savoring a hot meal, enjoying an early gift, and even catching a bit of the game. But during the holidays, these are mere distractions for those who live here.

"Family's gonna get me choked up. I've just got a real close family, a lot of love, and I haven't gotten to see them in a real long time," Jeff Thomas says.

Thomas says he misses his family, but is thankful for the one he's gained in his short time at the shelter.

"These people here are the family I got now and we're making the best of it. Everybody helps each other," Thomas says.

Residents say the relationships that form in the toughest of times are what help them make it through. During Christmas, it hurts to be miles away from what used to be home. But Martin still counts his many blessings.

"I'm thankful that I'm staying sober, that I'm still alive. I'm thankful that I'm getting God back in my life and I'm thankful I've got friends here to stay with that care. It's better than being there out alone on the street living with other homeless people that you don't even know," Martin says.

Captain Andy Collette with the Salvation Army says the Red Kettle Campaign finished last night for Jackson and George County. He is pleased to announce the kettles brought in more than $79,000 dollars.

This money will offset the cost of providing Christmas for 750 local families.  Any leftover money will continue to help people like we told you about in this story.