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Organizations operate as warming centers, open doors for homeless population amid brutal cold

With wind chills reaching -50 degrees in some spots, The Rescue Mission housed 165 men Tuesday night. That's the highest number they've ever had.

Posted: Jan 30, 2019 6:24 PM
Updated: Jan 31, 2019 8:38 AM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - Many organizations around the city have opened their doors over the last couple days to operate as warming centers for anyone in need. 

With wind chills reaching -50 degrees in some spots, The Rescue Mission housed 165 men Tuesday night. That's the highest number they've ever had. 

WARMING CENTERS FOR THOSE IN NEED

  • The Rescue Mission 
  • Just neighbors 
  • The Salvation Army 
  • Fort Wayne Parks and Rec 
  • Christian Praise and Fellowship Church 

"That's counting the guys in our programming, but also guys on cots and beds and putting the cots anywhere we can. We cleared out the tables [in the dining hall] and put cots in here," said Jared Ballenger, the life house coordinator. 

Homeless men like Keith Hargrove said the mission, and other warming centers are life savers in these brutal conditions. 

He recalled watching people come in from the cold. 

"A few people were under-dressed, and the ministry here provided them well with items they needed," Hargrove said. 

An influx of donations of food and winter gear gave Ballenger hope. 

"Winter hats, gloves, blankets, coats galore. They've been bringing them in. It's really awesome to see the community in Fort Wayne come together and bring that stuff.," he said. 

Women and families can't sleep at the mission, but they do serve as a point of entry to connect people with other shelters like Just Neighbors. 

"We're able to actually bring families in in the evening between seven and seven, seven at night and seven o'clock in the morning, to make sure they have a bed, somewhere to be, somewhere to be safe," said Joshua Gale, executive director of Just Neighbors. 

Gale said they have seen a few families in the last few days, including a pregnant mother in need. 

"Human to human, we owe them dignity and compassion and concern. So, even though we're doing all these things together, we have one main goal, and that's to show support and compassion to those around us," he said. 

Anyone in need can connect with a shelter and get a ride to the appropriate location from the Rescue Mission. 

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