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Residents thankful for homeless shelter

LAWTON, Okla._Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on what you're thankful for, and for the residents at Lawton's C. Carter Crane Shelter for the Homeless, that's having a roof over their head and a hot meal to eat.

For the first time, many of those who were living on the street now have a plan for the future and the tools to get back on their feet, thanks to the work the shelter does every day.

Homelessness does not discriminate, it affects all ages, races and genders. That statement is true for 27-year-old Jess.

"I would say that I'm thankful for this place taking me in. You know, they only had enough space for one for woman, so I'm very lucky I got that spot," Jess said.

She says she's happy to have a warm place to stay and eat this Thanksgiving.

“They are very helpful here. They want you to do something with yourself, they don't lax on anything really and that's the kind of kick in the butt I need really," she said.

Shelter director Heinz Kyle says that's exactly what many of their clients need. He says they have a high success rate because they make sure their residents understand this is just a temporary home. They put them on an intensive six-week program, which is designed to connect them with other organizations in the community and put them on the road to becoming self-sufficient.

"We try to help them obtain employment so they can get an income stream. And once we get that going, hopefully they save a little money since they don't have housing or eating cost. We hope to put them in Section 8 homes or adequate housing," Kyle explained.

But for one night, all those worries are absent.

"We serve the turkey, the ham, all the trimmings and dressing and all the clients participate in the cooking process and setting it up,” Kyle said.

It’s a community effort that everyone is involved in.

All of the items on their shelves were donated by different units on Fort Sill. A couple of turkeys and hams were also donated and will be used in the Thanksgiving dinner.

"The nice thing about it is the camaraderie that they experience with being with somebody. It’s like one big happy family eating dinner that day,” Kyle said.

The shelter can only hold 28 residents at time, but there are a few open rooms left. They also partner with other organizations to feed those they are unable to house and clothe the homeless during the winter season.

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