Volunteer churches continue temporary shelter services during single digit temperatures

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ST. LOUIS - With the temperatures hovering in the single digits Tuesday night, several St. Louis area volunteer shelters were continuing to stay open and help the most vulnerable get out of the cold.

That includes St. Peter’s AME Church in North City.

It’s been two weeks since the church volunteered to be a shelter from the cold.

Organizers said that on Monday night they served nearly 120 people and on Tuesday, space continued to fill up throughout the evening.

“I was questioning my faith, I didn’t know why God put me in this situation,” said Krystal Hartkopf who was living in a laundromat with her two young boys.

Hartkopf said she and her sons have been living house to house going from one relative to another.

She explained that the environment in all of those situations was not suitable for her kids.

“So, we stayed at a laundromat for a couple of days,” she said while fighting back tears. “Putting my kids in a situation like this was the hardest thing I had to do as a mom.”

That’s until the single mother came to the Biddle House downtown, which then connected her to St. Peter’s AME Church.

“There is a network of churches now and network of volunteers that make sure that hundreds of people get off the streets every night,” said associate minister, Karla Frye.

The church through the help of volunteers and donations has been providing necessities such as clothes, food, blankets, and cots.

Frye said that the house of worship has gone beyond just meeting the immediate needs during the bitterly cold winter nights.

“We started figuring out resources helping people find jobs and people have gotten permanent housing,” Frye expired, “we were able to help look at jobs online, look at resumes, find out a little more about people so that we can do our own version of case management and hook people up to resources.”

Those same resources are helping Hartkopf and her sons get their life back on track including permanent housing.

“This is rock bottom for me,” she said, “and to be able to get to a place where I am shown light again where I have faith that there is something out there that can help me, I want to give that brightness and that faith to somebody else.”

Frye said there is no need for any more clothing donations but that she is asking for socks, cough drops, underwear, canned food, and cereal.

You can also donate money to the church can keep its utilities running during the time it serves the needy.