As temperatures get lower and life outdoors becomes more brutal, local agencies are preparing warming stations and readying supplies for the homeless and those in need. Whether it is food donations or a place to sleep, many of these services are instrumental.
One of the heavy hitters in the area, when it comes to improving quality of life for those who need it, is the Salvation Army.
The Salvation Army frequently hosts warming stations for the homeless and provides other services to help those in need.
When it comes to serving individuals, one of the Salvation Army’s greatest needs is in the form of clothing and warming supplies that can leave with the homeless.
“We give away a lot of coats this time of year,” Portsmouth Salvation Army’s Mistie Simco said. “Most of these supplies go out around November. A lot of our homeless will also ask for coats, socks, and shoes. We do give out some hats as well, but I know most people are looking for coats and blankets.”
While the Salvation Army has cots for the homeless come warming station season, they are always in need of pillows and Simco says that a particular pillow serves the Salvation Army incredibly well.
“Those small ‘My Pillow’ pillows are very useful, because, when we put up the cots, we can actually wash the pillows and sanitize them,” Simco said. “They’re the tiny ones. I think they are called the travel ‘My Pillow,’ They’re just a nice thing to have. You know, we don’t necessarily need them, but they are very nice to have for the cots.”
According to the Salvation Army, the pillows can often be found at Walmart.
Simco circled back to say that the warming supplies are some of the most important things they give out this season.
“We have a problem in the community, and, for me, this is the human aspect of things. Personally, I don’t like to be cold and I have access to those things. So, I couldn’t imagine being cold and not having the ability to become warm,” Simco explained. “I think having a focus on getting things to give away, especially things that will last and provide the warmth through the winter, I venture to say it is almost a necessity. We don’t want people dying from frostbite. If we’re going to meet people’s needs— these are a major point of need in our community come winter.”
Simco also explained that food is also a big need they have year-round, but Christmas puts an emphasis on that, as people start planning holiday family dinners.
“We are preparing for Christmas. We try to do a small food drive around this season, which doesn’t usually go well, because the schools we solicit are also the ones in need. The labor union has helped in the past and we hope they continue to do so,” Simco explained. “I am never going to turn down an opportunity for people to bring in food for our pantry or feeding program.”
Another agency that assists in these needs is the Scioto County Homeless Shelter, where Maureen Cadogan echoed much of what Simco emphasized.
“We need socks and hats, but also things like hand warmers, because we still have people who choose to stay outside, even when it is cold,” Cadogan said “This is big for us, because, not only is it cold and flu season, but Covid is also still not gone.”
Cadogan said they also have a need for nonperishable foods, Lysol spray, and flashlights and batteries.
“If they care to reflect on this time of year, there was a very special family homeless, because there was no room in the inn,” Cadogan said, “When we give up our time and our talent and our substance, it is giving unto the Lord.”
Cadogan said donations to the homeless shelter can be made at any time.