Salvation Army working overtime to warm residents

Salvation Army working overtime to warm residents
(Source: KAIT)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Sleet and snow may be impacting the roads, but the cold temperatures are impacting those who may not have warm shelter.

The Salvation Army in Jonesboro is keeping a warming shelter open for those in need. Keeping the shelter open, though, comes with a price.

Janie May has stayed at the shelter since December and said once the weather hit, the doors opened.

"They didn't even hesitate," May said. "They said no, we will just stay open and y'all stay here."

May is one of the many who are thankful the Salvation Army is staying open.

"I'm proud to say that we have this type of facility here in Jonesboro," May said.

The shelter normally closes during the day to encourage people to look for jobs, but with the below freezing temps, the shelter decided to stay open throughout the day and serve an extra meal.

May said because the buses weren't running, she couldn't get to work. Had the shelter not been open, she would have had nowhere to go.

Major Eugene Gesner said it's important they house those in need.

"We are the only general purpose shelter in Jonesboro," Gesner said. "The thing is, most of these folks, if they don't have a job they go to the library, and the library hasn't been open the last couple of days."

Gesner said the extended hours and extra meals come with a cost.

"We have a minimal staff," Gesner said. "Generally when we have particularly something like this when it's lasting all week, a bunch of overtime."

Employees are working extra hours, and the overtime must be paid out of the already tight budget.

Gesner said luckily they have plenty of money thanks to the holidays, but it won't last.

"We've got enough to cover right now," Gesner said. "Unfortunately, what it is, the more we spend above what we budgeted, the more likely we are to have problems operating this summer."

Gesner said no matter the cost, they do what they have to do to keep those in need safe and warm.

"We don't want them out in this kind of weather because it's just too cold," Gesner said.

This is a small gesture that means a lot to those who have no place to go.

"None of us are worried now because we see how they are," May said. "They are very nice to us."

Gesner said they are always taking food and monetary donations, but more importantly the shelter does have some empty beds in case there is someone with nowhere to stay.

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