Winter came early this year, leaving those who serve locals in need scrambling for supplies. Homeless shelters have opened their overflow beds, but donations are not coming quickly enough.
The freezing temperatures can be downright dangerous for people who do not have a place to call home. Sixteen homeless people died in Oklahoma City last winter.
The Homeless Alliance day center was a packed house Monday as people sought escape from the snow.
Many Curbside Chronicle vendors braved the cold to sell their magazines, though, wearing layers of sweatshirts and thin gloves to stay warm. Local ad agency Insight Creative Group is hosting a coat drive for the driven sellers.
Organizer Lisha Dunlap says donations are not coming as quickly as in the past, though.
“You get people whose lives have been fixed last year,” Dunlap explains, “then you have a whole new crop of people this year.”
As an incentive, Kendra Scott is offering donors 15% off if they bring coats to the Classen Curve location. Dunlap urges you to help the less fortunate.
“The thing that is the most upsetting is driving your car and having to take off your coat because you’re too warm and passing by someone who’s literally freezing to death,” says Dunlap, “and we all think that we can’t fix it because homelessness is so big, but everybody can do something.”
The Homeless Alliance is collecting winter weather gear for others in need, but the demand is high.
Executive Director Dan Straughan points to a stack of boxes of blankets, saying, “There’s 300 per box. We have a lot of blankets and we’ll run through them before the month is over.”
With an estimated 400 people living on the streets of OKC, shelters are opening their doors to as many of them as possible.
Straughan says, “We would really encourage everybody who’s currently experiencing unsheltered homelessness to come into those shelters that are doing overflow, and it’s all the big shelters.”
There are more than 160 overflow beds available for people who need them, and the shelters can accommodate up to 300 if necessary.