MARYLAND – Over the past few months, winter weather has taken a toll on our roads, our cars, our travel time, and one group many of us forget about – our homeless population.
"This has been a very difficult winter," says Celeste Savage, executive director of HALO Ministry in Salisbury, Maryland. "It's been very taxing."
Since just January, Savage says more than 200 different women and children have spent time in HALO's emergency shelter. This number does include the homeless residents that come in for the three meals the ministry provides.
However, a winter storm brings a whole new concern.
"Not knowing for sure how many is going to be showing up, making sure we're preparing enough," says Savage. "Then with the kids being off from school, we're not really sure what we're going do when the crowd gets in here."
Apparently the HALO ministry is not alone. The Samaritan Shelter in Pocomoke, which provides about 16 rooms, says they have been full since about November.
"We get a lot of phone calls and unfortunately we have to turn people away because we don't have the room," says Eileen Hammond, a house manager at the shelter. "We've called other shelters to see if they have room, and they've been filled up as well. That's hard because you want to help everybody but you can't."
Both HALO and the Samaritan Shelter say the community and volunteers have played a huge part in getting them through the past few months. However, some worry what will happen if Old Man Winter strikes again.
"Space is relatively limited," says Savage. "We really need the sugar we need the milk we need the coffee, we need those items because when it's cold, you want to be able to have something hot to drink."
"I would hope this would be the last one of the year," says Hammond.
While shelters hope for warmer weather for the homeless population, they are still asking everyone to not forget about those in need.
"If they see someone on the street, have an open heart and mind," says Savage. "We deal with a lot of hurting people, and we'd be glad to have them here."
For an updated list on the needs at the HALO Ministry, visit their website or call 410-742-9356. To help the Samaritan Shelter, visit their website or call 410-957-4310.
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