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Area warming centers work together to prepare for bitter cold nights

(WEAU)
Published: Feb. 13, 2020 at 5:00 PM CST
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Catholic Charities offers the Sojourner House in Eau Claire and the Warming Center in La Crosse to help keep people safe.

The Warming Center on 3rd street can house up to 40 adults during the winter season from Nov. 1 to April 30.

It offers more than just a chair to sleep in as well.

"When a guest walks in, we offer the opportunity to do laundry, we have showers here, we have an area for a change of clothing," said Leticia Silva, the Warming Center coordinator.

The Salvation Army on 8th street also offers a warming service.

This year, it introduced new tiers to the program where more space is made available the colder it gets.

Additionally, its heated vestibule is open to anyone every night.

Catholic Charities and Salvation Army say it's important to work together to meet community needs and have everything run as smooth as possible.

"We team together! We practically have walkie-talkies back and forth to talk to one another," said Krista Coey, director of social services for Salvation Army La Crosse County.

"I love the fact that we can collaborate with both of our shelters, especially right now during the cold," Silva said. "If they have a couple beds open and we're turning away people, we're calling over there and seeing if it's fine."

They say working together is especially important during nights where the temperature is below zero, as the shelters make sure to prepare for overflow.

"Let's get some more volunteers on-hand, just in case, to get everyone in. We have our meal provider that comes in tonight and we asked them, 'do you mind prepping for like 50 instead of 40?' so that we get additional meals," Silva said.

The Warming Center estimates it will see more than 250 volunteers during the winter season.

Donations of blankets, winter gloves, and hygiene products are always needed as well.

"[We need] soap, body wash, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes-- the really basic needs," said Loretta LaPoint, the shelter advocate for Salvation Army La Crosse County.

Both locations say their main goal is to help those in need.

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