Volunteers brave extreme cold to help the homeless

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – Volunteers were out Wednesday night going to extremes to keep the dangerous cold from being deadly.

Their efforts paid off.

Volunteers served warm meals late into the night at a just-opened overflow shelter Sts. Teresa & Brigid Church in North St. Louis.  Volunteers also offered free rides to shelters in their personal cars.

The weather seemed to have no mercy with negative wind chill at the warmest part of the day.

A group of people in need huddled around a fire in a tent city north of Downtown St. Louis.

It seemed they had to nearly stand in the flames to get warm.

Yet there was mercy beyond the winter winds.

“We all are very compassionate and understanding of circumstances,” said Maddy Christian, a volunteer with the group St. Louis Homeless Winter Outreach.

About 2 dozen group volunteers met at Mokabe’s Coffeehouse in South St. Louis to gather blankets and food and then fan out across the city.

They hoped to bring 20-to-50 people, perhaps more, “in” out of the dangerous cold or at least offer them warm blankets and food.

Mary Pitts of Belleville dropped off blankets and cookies for volunteers to distribute, as a birthday present to herself.

“There’s a group on Facebook that I’m in that collects coats and blankets for people.  So we’ve been collecting them in Belleville through a shelter shop I work at.  So, we said we’d come over tonight.  Tomorrow’s my birthday.  I said, what a great birthday present,” Pitts said.

“We all see the bigger picture and the need to spread throughout our community starting from the bottom up,” Christian said.  “Let’s give you a little lift.  It takes just that one person to build the ladder to success.  So if you give that person that one step up you never know what could happen…you give every human dignity and respect.”

The City of St. Louis’s emergency shelter was also open ready for hundreds of people in need.

You can drop of donations of blankets, coats, hats, or cash for St. Louis Homeless Winter Outreach at Mokabe’s.

The cash will pay for everything from food to bus passes for the homeless.

You can become a volunteer by visiting the group’s Facebook page.

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