St. Louis Winter Outreach helps less fortunate get out of the cold with increased efforts

ST. LOUIS - Winter shelter and outreach operations were in effect Monday night to help the less fortunate stay warm during the bitter cold temperatures.

Alan Easton is one of several St. Louis Winter Outreach volunteers working non-stop to get people in need, off the streets, and into a warm shelter.

“I don’t want people in our city to be suffering on the coldest nights to be outside," Easton said. "I mean, that’s horrible.”

Some people who were in obvious need of help were even seen getting into a warming bus parked on Market and 13th streets while they waited to be shuttled.

"We organize two sets of volunteers," Easton said. “Some that go out on the streets and give blankets and items to folks who want to stay on the street overnight and then here we find folks who seek shelter.”

The city is also offering additional cots to accommodate those people who need sheltering and support.

“The planning happens for this during the summertime," said Irene Agustin, director of human services. “So we gauge from year to year how many cots we need so we make our biggest purchase during the summer.”

Reverend Earl E. Nance with Heat Up St. Louis said that every winter, calls for needing assistance with their utilities go up—and this winter season is no different.

“People are making choices between heating and eating," Nance said. “Seniors are making choices between staying warm and getting their prescription drugs that they need to stay healthy.”

Easton said that outreach operations are looking to recruit more volunteers, in addition to asking the community to step up and give.

“We ask for donations of blankets and warm outerwear like gloves and hats," Easton said. “Once they get wet they can’t be used again so they have to be replenished all the time.”

To volunteer with St. Louis Winter Outreach visit https://bit.ly/2szV9dI. To make a donation or seek assistance with utilities, contact Heat Up St. Louis by logging on to https://heatupstlouis.org.

For further assistance, call United Way 211 or 911.

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