TYLER, TX (KLTV) - East Texas shelters and rescue missions are seeing the demands and sufferings from this freeze, first-hand. They still want to encourage anyone who needs a warm place to stay, to come through their doors.
The kitchen at the Salvation Army in Tyler is the heart of all activity, cooking for the masses throughout the weekend. Residential Director, Steve Houston, says they are happy to provide a little relief from the icy winter blast.
"Our elderly and other people out there in the community we encourage them if they do not have heat please come in," said Houston.
Donations are coming in, but they need more.
"Warm weather clothing for kids, hats, gloves [and] things of that nature," said Houston. "We also continue to need blankets."
Houston says a lot of children are temporarily calling the Salvation Army home. Their parents either can not afford utilities, are out of work, or seeking refuge from violence in the home. Houston says no one should have to suffer in these life-threatening weather conditions.
"A lot of times, with people, it's a pride thing," said Houston. "They think about the Salvation Army and think, 'Oh, it's just a homeless shelter,' but we're a place for you to come in from the cold, receive comfort, have a warm bed, and also have food and adequate shelter."
Normally, those who stay there are required to leave during the day in search of jobs. But Houston says no one is being forced out in these freezing conditions.
"The nature of the weather has a lot to do with people going out on job searches, being able to actually go to and from the destinations," explained Houston. "You know, if they don't have adequate transportation we say, 'Hey, it's just a little bit too cold out there. Let's work on something else.' A lot of them will stay in and volunteer."
Emergency room shelters have been opened up so there is still plenty of room for anyone without heat or a roof over their head. The Salvation Army says that in a disaster, they can house up to 500 people. They also give out bags of food to those in need, which goes on a case-by-case basis.