Homeless shelters prepare for winter overflow - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Homeless shelters prepare for winter overflow

Lawton_Thursday's 30-degree temperature drop has Lawton's homeless shelters gearing up for a busy night.  In fact, they could fill beyond capacity.  Shelter workers say many of the area's homeless don't want help during the warmer months, but once blustery weather hits, that all changes. 

The C. Carter Crane Homeless Shelter can provide lodging for 35 people, and on a wintry day, that's how many are there.  "We're starting to fill up," said Betty Caldwell with the Crane shelter.  "We've got just a little bit of bed space left, and I would imagine between today and tomorrow - with the weather and the wind staying like it is - we will be totally full." 

There is usually overflow, and Caldwell will ask the only other homeless shelter - the Lawton Salvation Army - it has extra bed space.  The Lawton Salvation Army Shelter has beds for 32, and they are almost always used.  "Last year we had 10,408 nights of lodging," said Lawton Salvation Army Captain John Murphy.  "That averages to about 28 people per night that come and stay.  During the cold days like last year and the year before, we fill up beyond capacity."

It costs the shelters about $8 per person, and while the Salvation Army hesitates to take in anyone with a drug problem, it says that once the temperature drops to 40-degrees, it will take in anyone.  "We open our doors, and they can spend the night with us, to make sure that we get everybody off the street that is living outdoors--whether it be in a car or an abandoned building--to make sure that they don't get injured or possibly die from exposure," said Murphy.

The shelters also try to provide coats, blankets, and a hot meal to those in need.  "Individuals can come that need colder weather clothing, see our case worker, get a voucher for the thrift store, and go and get those items for free," said Murphy.  "They don't have to pay if they're really in need of those items."

With all they provide, the shelters need help from the community.  The Crane shelter says it's gotten a lot of donations this year, but could always use more.  Caldwell says she would like to provide some joy to those in need.  "It's very hard, and it's very discouraging in this day and time," she said.  "A lot of times it's just being courteous to people who are in need; and if you have, make it a Thanksgiving to remember.  Help somebody in need in your own community."

The Lawton Salvation Army also will provide a Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless on Thanksgiving day at 3 p.m.  They expect to serve 100-150 people, and they say they could use help there, too.  Call the Salvation Army for more information at 580-355-1802.  Anyone who would like to donate to the Lawton Food Bank should call them at 580-353-7994.

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