No day like today
A reader writes:
Due to the very cold weather, the Red Cross has set up a warming center at the Four Square Church at SE 14th & Ash for the past two nights, and are planning to be open every night this week. The warming center gives the outdoor poor a warm place to sleep and coffee and soup.UPDATE, 3:43 p.m.: The reader sends this update:
I stopped by last night and they are very low on some items. While they have plenty of coffee, they could really use hot chocolate packets, tea bags, instant oatmeal, instant soups- stuff like that. It would really be great if we could bring some of the needed items to the center. If you happen to be doing some grocery shopping today, perhaps you could toss something for the warming center into your basket. Donations can be dropped off at The Red Cross (if you need a receipt for taxes) or directly at the warming center.
This would be a great time to look through your closets and see if you have any unwanted or extra hats, gloves, scarves, blankets. These could also be given out at the center.
I was out last night giving away those foil emergency blankets to homeless campers, and it was brutally cold. The blankets are also something helpful you can buy as they weigh nothing and really keep body heat in. They are available at Andy & Bax for about $1.50. If you buy ten or more, there is a 10% discount. Andy & Bax also carry emergency sleeping bags with hoods, made from the same material, for $3.99. The emergency blankets are also available at Fred Meyer in the camping department.
I just had a conversation with Mike Fish of the Red Cross today and they do not usually accept "spontaneous" donations at the site. They want to have the same items at each center for "continuity's sake". However, I have had such a huge positive response from people wanting to help, that we have come up with a plan.
What we have worked out is that I will be at the warming center at Four Square Church tonight from 7pm-9pm to accept donations and distribute them to people as they come in. I will also be out distributing space blankets, and hopefully hot drinks on my Foot Patrol route early tonight and maybe the next few nights. There are quite a lot of people still camping outside, and it's horribly cold. I can always use help on the Foot Patrol, * * * even for one night. It's really an eye-opener to be out there and talk to these people. They are so grateful for any help that it's a humbling experience (and a reality check for me!).
* * * * *
You can make a donation to the Red Cross directly, or sign up to volunteer (you will need to do a quick free on-line background check).
The volunteer shifts are:
Shift 1: 7pm-10:30pm (set up equipment, serve food/coffee, guests enter
at 8pm, lights out at 10pm)
Shift 2: 10pm-5:30am (monitor events through the night)
Shift 3: 5am-8:30am (wake up at 6am, serve more food/coffee, guests
leave by 7am, clean up facility)
The facilities are the Estate Hotel (225 NW Couch St), Cavalry Christian Church (126 NE Alberta), and the Foursquare Church (1303 SE Ankeny St.) They still need volunteers from Tuesday through Friday nights.
You can also contact Transition Projects (www.tprojects.org) for a list of places that can really use your donations.
Thanks so much for all of your positive input. I had just sent the "send" button on my computer and within a minute had a call from someone who is donating money to buy space blankets. Plus I've had lots and lots of emails with offers of food, etc. I'm so proud of your compassion and generosity -- showing once again that Buckman is a great neighborhood filled with great people!