Big Need For Warming Centers As Temps Plummet
TULSA, Oklahoma - Tulsans are dealing with the coldest New Year's Eve in a decade.
It's important to remember not everyone has a warm place to rest their head at night.
That is where the Salvation Army and other shelters come in.
There was a high of 70 degrees in Tulsa on New Year's Eve in 2011.
Now, as Tulsa faces bone-chilling temperatures, shelters say they're not turning anyone away.
As Toyia Hamilton welcomes people inside the Salvation Army, she knows what it's like to wait in this line.
"I was here once," she said.
She said she was homeless and came to the shelter for four years.
"No one's promised tomorrow," Toyia said.
Now a supervisor at the shelter, she's giving back.
She's expecting three to four hundred people to stay overnight.
She also estimates 1000 meals were served on Sunday.
"If you're under the bridge come on home. We got you," Toyia said.
And on the coldest New Year's Eve in a decade, she says they won't be turning anyone away.
It's a similar story at the John 3:16 Mission, where they're expecting a full house of about 200 men.
"It's bitter cold. It can be almost painful if you get caught out in the wind," said John 3:16 Mission Pastor Reverend Steve Whitaker.
Whitaker said even without the numbing temperatures, the shelter has been packed for months.
This summer, he says it was at 110% capacity.
The need has been consistent, but he says the shelter is ready to make room for whoever needs a safe place to rest and stay warm.
"It might be crowded, but you might make new friends. So how bad can that be?" Whitaker said.
"People are lonely. It's a difficult time. We do ask people to be prayerful, be thoughtful, about our homeless friends," the reverend said.
"Serve, save, protect. That's what we do," Toyia said.
Both the Salvation Army and John 3:16 Mission are always accepting donations.
The Salvation Army says it could use blankets and sheets.
John 3:16 says right now coats, gloves, hats, and socks are welcome.