2018 has started with some of the coldest temperatures on record. As another Arctic front bears down on the Midwest, The Salvation Army continues to serve our neighbors in need through daytime warming centers and overnight emergency shelters.
Working with local Emergency Management offices, The Salvation Army provides a physical location where individuals and families can go when extreme temperatures hit. This service is especially vital for the homeless, who struggle to survive on the streets with wind chills well below zero. Water pipes in homes can also freeze and burst, and ice storms can take out power to entire neighborhoods. In both scenarios, families find themselves without heat in dangerously cold weather. Shelters quickly become essential.
Since mid-December, The Salvation Army’s New Albany Corps Community Center has been activated as a “white flag” shelter in conjunction with the Homeless Coalition of Southern Indiana. This keeps the building open overnight from 7:00 p.m. through 7:00 a.m. for homeless individuals in need of an escape from the cold. These white flag shelters open when temperatures in the area drop below 35 degrees for more than four hours. The Salvation Army corps in Madison, Indiana, has also opened numerous times as an emergency overnight shelter for Jefferson County.
The extreme, below zero temperatures of recent days have activates emergency plans in many other Indiana counties. When temperatures drop below 10 degrees, The Salvation Army in Fort Wayne opens as a backup overnight shelter provider for The Rescue Mission so that no child or adult goes without a warm place to stay. The Salvation Army in Marion is also open today, serving as a warming center for Grant County residents.
In Indianapolis, the Eagle Creek and Fountain Square corps community centers have been open as daytime warming centers. These daytime locations provide a place for those who have taken refuge at overnight shelters. Should a local resident suddenly find themselves without adequate heat, these corps are able to provide warmth, hot coffee or cocoa, and books and games for children. Gymnasiums and computer labs in the community centers also provide great diversions for kids whose schools have closed because of the extreme temperatures.
In addition to providing safe shelter for those without heat, The Salvation Army also helps families get the assistance they need when it comes to high utility bills. Every day, desperate individuals show up at our doors with disconnect or shut off notices in hand. Thanks to the support of donors across the state, we’re often able to help these people keep the lights and heat on during the coldest months of the year. We also work to connect them with other resources in the community and do what we can to ease other burdens they may have. This winter assistance is an important part of The Salvation Army’s ministries in Indiana, and has a great impact on thousands of Hoosiers every year.
For more information about the services provided by local Salvation Army corps community centers, visit our Locations page.