In from the cold

When freezing weather hits, we all take precautions to protect our homes.

But what if you have no home to protect, much less provide shelter from the cold?

That's where agencies like the Salvation Army take over.

And as uncomfortable as it is walking outdoors, imagine sleeping out here.

Even those among the homeless who normally resist going to shelters, are coming in to the Salvation Army today.

And the people who's job it is to provide for them are stretched thin.

"When it's cold weather like this," says Chantel Millin of the Salvation Army, "we're going to use more heat, electricity, more water, and more food. We have to make sure we have enough linens washed for people to bathe."

Obviously, this time of year shelters are busier than normal.

But when we see nighttime temps in the teens, there is a population explosion.

Normally the Salvation Army houses about 140 people on an average winter night.

Sunday night, the first night of truly cold weather, that number jumped by a third.

If there's a huge jump on Monday night, they can open up the gym and sleep up to 400.

Gabriel has been on the street a long time.

"I was homeless when I was 15 and all I had was a sweat suit," he told us.

And winter weather doesn't scare him.

"If you've ever stayed in Dallas, it gets colder," he smiled.

But Sunday night, was different.

"I would describe it as very cold, lonely, and a big reality check," he said.

All of that means the resources of groups like the Salvation Army are depleted, and depleted quickly.

And that's when they turn to the public.

And while donations of food or clothing are appreciated, the quickest way to money.

"We are able to stretch the same $10 a little differently here due to the networking and connections that we have," Millin says. "So the same $2 that could buy two canned goods, we might be able to get six or seven."

But for Daniel, this night was more personal.

"On nights like that it will make you think," he sighed, "what am I doing and what is my purpose in life."


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