MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Most of us think it is cold just walking to and from their cars. But, just think if you had to sleep outside. It’s the reality for many Minnesotans.
They are accepting donations of blankets, coats, gloves, hats and anything else that can help bring warmth to people stuck out in the cold.
With the weather turning colder and icy, many are expected to pack shelters Saturday night.
“We’ve got some blankets, some pillows, some jackets,” said Sam Ndely, member of Phi Beta Sigma.
They got started at noon Saturday and the donations began to pile up. The men and women took one night out of their week to sleep outside. They hope to bring attention to people who have to sleep outside every night of their lives.
“Unfortunately, the shelter system at this point in Hennepin County has too few beds, by at least 100,” said Steve Horsfield, Chief Operating Officer for the Salvation Army Harbor Light Center.
Horsfield said there is a huge need for more shelter space.
“We’re fighting an overwhelming demand for shelter due to economic conditions and we have been for about the last 18 months,” Horsfield said.
At capacity, Harbor Light has very little room for people who have nowhere to go.
“We certainly expect with the temperatures tonight and with freezing rain coming that we will see more folks in. Unfortunately, the shelter will be crowded and we will continue to take the people in because that is what we do. We do not want to see them dying outside while we try and accommodate additional shelter needs,” Horsfield said.
They’ve been forced to make people sleep under florescent light. Some even have to sleep on mats in the chapel, but they’ll be warm.
“It’s difficult to see people on the [street] corners in the winter time, and it’s like, ‘Where you going to go for the night?” said Sam Ndely with Phi Beta Sigma.
Ndely said the need for more bed space drove Phi Beta Sigma to take action.
“It’s winter time and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. A lot of people don’t have homes,” he added.
They hope what they’re doing will spread and other organizations will do what they can to help keep the homeless out of the cold.
Harbor Light alone has placed 300 homeless people in permanent housing so far this year, but they can’t keep up. That’s why donated blankets and coats are so important for those who won’t find shelter.
The Salvation Army has begun their kettle drive, so people can drop some cash into the red kettles.
In addition, the men of Phi Beta Sigma will be at the North Community YMCA in Minneapolis until 9 a.m. Sunday to take donations.