LAWTON, Okla. - The Lawton Salvation Army has a place for the homeless to come rest and be warm, because as of now, only about half of the 45 beds at the shelter are filled.
"It's just not safe to sleep out in the open and we wouldn't want anyone getting sick or dying out in the cold," said Salvation Army Capt. Ernest Hull.
But many say the shelter does far more than just give people a place to sleep out of the cold. The organization helped some of them get back on their feet so they could turn their lives around. Now they are helping others who are in the same situation.
Brett McGinley and his wife Michele could have been Santa's elves Wednesday morning. They helped take Christmas packages from the Salvation Army building to people's cars. They are some of the people whose children were given Christmas presents through the Angel Tree program. They help because they themselves were helped 17 years ago.
"17 years ago I was pretty heavy drinking and hit bottom actually. The Salvation Army picked me up and helped me out and I was in their treatment center for 3 months," said Brent.
"His drinking was out of control and he knew that he wasn't gonna be able to do it on his own," said Michele.
Today Brett is clean and sober. Something Hull attributes to the type of program they run.
"It's a work therapy program for those that are part of the program for an extended stay. They are required to have a job or seek a job within the fixed period of time," said Hull.
Hull says that gives people the proper motivation to get their life back together.
"Basically the shelter is open until 8 o'clock in the morning, when folks go out to work or seek work. They're either out working or looking for work during the day," said Hull.
"It gave him a new perspective and he learned to appreciate his family more," said Michele.
"Well I got my family back and I have been sober for 17 years," said Brett.
Hull says they see a lot of people who find success after they go through their shelter. He says the Salvation Army actually even employs some of the people at the shelter. That is one way they help people get back on their feet.
Hull says there is one thing that would help their shelter immensely and that is bedding. He says a lot of people at the shelter just take the bedding with them when they leave. If you would like to donate, give the Salvation Army a call at (580) 355-1802.