Weather shifts needs for homeless
In times of cold and heavy rains the Midwest has experienced lately, the area’s homeless suffer. Shelters and services see a 25 to 30 percent increase in the number of people they help.
“You know if we have a week or 10 days of this in a row, that can really put a strain on feeding opportunities,” Debbie Markman, resource development director for the Economic Security Corporation said.
Georgia Jones, executive director of Soul’s Harbor sees a change in eating patterns.
“Somehow it seems like the people get hungrier when the weather gets cold too, because they can come through the line for seconds, and we serve breakfast and supper to them,” Jones said.
The last time the Economic Security Corporation performed a homeless count in July 2015, they found 267 homeless living in Joplin alone. Feeding them is just one aspect.
“Thermal underwear and work gloves are tremendous needs right now. We can always use food, of any kind, especially staple kind. We have done as many as 600 boxes of food in a month and that’s not normal, normally its around 100-150 food boxes,” Jones said.
Markman said the best way to lend a hand is to call and have experts at each shelter evaluate the specific needs of their homeless at that point in time. Sometimes, it can be as simple as giving a ride to a job interview or to a family member’s home.
“I think its just important to give those organizations that are trying to maintain folks safety and security when its this cold and finding out what their needs are,” Markman said.
As for material resources, Jones said the homeless men are in the most need.
“We’re short on thermal underwear and they’re going to be wanting thermal underwear, we are short on men’s gloves, we are short on men’s hats, toboggan hats, we’ve got a lot for children but not for men,” Jones said.