Salvation Army Keeps Doors Open for South Mississippi's Homeless

When the temperature gets low, the homeless flock to the Salvation Army to stay warm.

"Our numbers are way up here, because there's no place else for them to go," Salvation Army Captain Andy Collette says.

Since Katrina, the Pascagoula shelter is the only one still standing.

"We have 46 bed facilities. We've had 8, 9 people on the floor already, we know tonight is going to be much bigger," Collette says.

"Suppertime!" one volunteer calls to let everyone know it's time to eat.

With supper lines this long, the Salvation Army fights the cold snap with a warm meal, free shelter, and encouragement for all who stop by.

"Homeless people who are currently living in a tent city or a bridge or under a tree, wherever they can find shelter. Those people tonight are the people who we want to help, so we can bring them in and give them a place to stay," Collette says.

In a few hours, fifteen beds will be placed on the living room floor, giving more than a dozen people a place to rest. Captain Collette says he and his staff have a chance to cater to a few other voids in his visitor's lives.

"Soup, soap, and salvation. We're gonna get two of those tonight for everyone that comes in. If they stay with us on a Wednesday night or a Sunday, then the salvation option is available too," Collette says.

Plenty of people are taking the Salvation Army up on that offer. Captain Collete estimates that 60 people will fill this shelter beyond capacity for this hard freeze...and that's something that fill his heart with joy.

"If we can create just that much hope in their heart and their mind, just to stall them at the door for 5 seconds, then maybe just maybe we can get them saved, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We can get them back on their feet. And if we can do that, it's an awesome success, it's awesome," Collette says.

Captain Collette says most of the people who stay in his shelter have jobs. But the lack of affordable housing since Katrina keeps them from having a place to call their own.