Area shelters helping out more in need of safety amid low temperatures

JOPLIN, Mo.–With the cold temperatures we’ve experienced across the region, staying outside isn’t an option. But for those with nowhere else to go, it can seem like their only option.

“I think that a big piece of that is, to understand during temperatures like this, it is unsafe,” said Doug Gamble, Outreach Center Director at Watered Gardens.

Local shelters like Watered Gardens have seen their beds fill up the past few days due to low temperatures.  Other shelters like Souls Harbor share the same observation.

“We have been seeing a lot more people come in. So we’ve had a lot more company,” said Dianna Gurley, Executive Director at Soul’s Harbor. “So and everybody has a lot of needs right now. Hats, scarves, gloves, gloves, really in particular. We’re now out of those. So we’ve gone through a few thousand pairs. So we’ve we’ve gone through a lot. We’re we’re down to about eight or ten coats now. So we’re needing some coats as well. ”

But when it comes to getting people shelter, it remains manageable, the issues come from ensuring they can accommodate everyone, especially with fewer volunteers.

“It has been a little harder with the snow and the ice. It takes the brave at heart to be able to get them in here, to do it.” Gurley said. 

Gamble says it’s a challenge they face too.

“Well, sometimes the challenges really are just trying to try to accommodate everyone and make sure everyone’s fed and warm and, you know, oftentimes during this time, we might have a few less volunteers because the roads are slick and people can’t get out. but that’s understandable. but fortunately, I feel like we have a good setup pretty well to keep things moving no matter what.”

Both shelters say they could always use more items like gloves, socks, and hats. 

“Everybody has a lot of needs right now, hats, scarves,  gloves, really in particular. We’re now out of those…we’re down to about eight or ten coats now. So we’re needing some coats as well.”

And although capacity is a concern, both say they have ways to get shelter to anyone who needs it.

“Now we have added on more hours for our warming station”, Gurley said. “We used to be closed from like 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. And then from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. And then we would have the warming station open from six at night to six in the morning. But since it’s staying so cold, now, we can’t really have people out there. So we’ve had a couple of additional volunteers come from three, 3:00 in the afternoon to 6:00 in the evening. And then there’s other volunteers who stay over in the morning from the six to nine until the regular staff can get here.”

“It does get crowded sometimes, but at night there’s a couple more warming centers that open up around the community. And so that kind of helps kind of spread out or give people options and spread out,” Gamble said. 

Anyone looking to drop off coats, hats, or gloves to Soul’s Harbor can do so at 817 S. Main St or 915 S. Main St. in Joplin.

Anyone who wishes to donate items such as coats, hats, handwarmers or gloves to Watered Gardens can do so at 531 Kentucky Ave on Joplin.