Finding shelter from the cold

By Lauren Payne - bio | email feedback

Busy days ahead for those cooking food, and preparing food boxes to be picked up.

"Sometimes you just can't make it and you need someone to step in and give you a helping hand and a hand up," said Mission Outreach Executive Director, Jamie Collins.

Whether it's for a warm place or a warm meal, Collins says she expects the need to grow over the next few bitterly cold days.

"We're actually seeing a decrease in the number of individuals who find themselves homeless, but a huge increase in those needing assistance to prevent becoming homeless," said Collins.

Collins says temperature extremes mean an increase in service.

"We were serving about 80 meals a day and here lately, it's been 100 meals a day," said Collins.

It's an increase she says they're ready for.

"We've tried to stock up and tried to be prepared--there's people working in the kitchen full time," said Collins.

While Major Craig Greenham at the Salvation Army says there's no way to tell how many to prepare for, he says they're ready to meet the need.

"We can provide a hot meal as we are open to the public every night at 5:30," said Greenham.

A need he says that continues to grow.

"Even before the cold snap hit, we were seeing more people call our emergency assistance looking for assistance with utilities," said Greenham.

At Mission Outreach, Jamie Collins says she's not surprised by the increase in traffic--she says the temperatures are making an already bad situation worse.

"We're just seeing an increase in services across the board and the cold just complicates it," said Collins.

Mission Outreach in Paragould is open 24 hours a day.

At Salvation Army in Jonesboro, a warm meal is served for those in need every night starting at 5:30.  

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