Cold weather fills Salvation Army shelter - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Cold weather fills Salvation Army shelter

Lawton_The sleet may have abated, but a lot of schools and businesses remained closed on Wednesday.  Temperatures still hovered around freezing late in the afternoon, and some roads remained icy.  However, the Lawton Salvation Army was open and busy.  For the past two days, they say every bed has been filled, and every chair at the dinner table taken. 

For the past two nights, the Salvation Army Shelter has housed almost 50 people, and says that as the temperatures drop, head counts likely will rise.  It never closes its doors, and in extreme temperatures such as recently, while the office and programs such as the Boys and Girls Club will close - the shelter is an exception.  It can be a matter of life and death if the shelter were to close.

Food, company, and a warm place to sleep are things that Morris Knight - along with many others - wouldn't have if the doors to the Salvation Army Shelter were not open.  "There really ain't no where to stay warm," he said.  "You might be able to go to a hospital and sit a few hours - there are places like that.  Some convenience stores will let you come stand for 10-20 minutes."

Shelter Director Paula Shively says many folks she sees during the cold weather aren't regulars.  "There are those who will stay in an abandoned house, and when the temperatures get this low they will come in to keep from freezing to death," she said.  She says beds usually are full, but the shelter doesn't discourage anyone in need from dropping in.  "Yesterday - as cold as it was - we were just packed inside, even down to the stairwell, of just people coming in to get warm," she said.

The colder it gets outside, the more room the shelter will make inside.  "The Salvation Army's policy is that we refuse no one upon freezing temperatures," said Shively.  "So, we have FEMA cots that we put out if all the beds get full."  Despite the fact that traffic may decrease during the day, the Salvation Army says it's prepared for the nightly rush.  "There's a lot of increase at night time, because during the daytime there's a lot of people walking around and everything," she said.  "But, when the sun starts going down, this is the warmest place around to stay."

The Salvation Army says that during the cold weather, it sees a lot of people who may not be homeless, but don't have heat in their homes, and will wait out the cold at the shelter.  It says it has been flooded with guests and phone calls from people in need.  Because the Salvation Army is housing so many, it is short on food and toiletries.  If you would like to make a donation, call 580-355-1802.

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