Volunteers expect more people at shelters as temperatures drop in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Emergency cold weather shelters are preparing for a busy night as temperatures drop to dangerous levels.

East Sunshine Church of Christ, which is on Sunshine near U.S. 65, has been serving as a men's cold weather shelter for 10 years now. This is the only regular men's cold weather shelter.

It opens by 8:30 p.m. The men get a cot to sleep on, with a clean blanket and pillow, coffee and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The team of 100 volunteers from the church and community keep the shelter running. The church has already opened about 60 nights this fall and winter.

Monday night, the shelter housed 90 men. And two nights last week, the totals nearly reached 100. Volunteers expect that same amount of men Tuesday night.

"Well, we will not turn anyone away," said East Sunshine Church of Christ lead preaching minister Deron Smith. "We will make sure that there is warmth for every person. So, we'll figure that out when we get to that spot. We have been in touch with other churches to see if there could be some emergency overflow."

Many men take a shuttle from Victory Square or get a free ride on city buses to the nearest bus stop. They must be 18 to stay. It is the same age minimum at the temporary women's cold weather shelter at the Council of Churches offices at Chestnut and Glenstone. Volunteers report about five or six women each night. It opens at 9 p.m. and women can also take a city bus for free to a stop near the shelter.

Safe to Sleep, a year-round women's shelter, which requires a screening process, has been averaging about 30 to 40 women a night.

The Salvation Army will offer an extreme emergency cold weather shelter to assist other shelters in town through Thursday morning. It will house single men and women at Harbor House near Chestnut and Boonville. Families with children should go to the main Salvation Army campus at Kansas and Chestnut. A picture ID will be required to stay overnight, as they will be doing a sex offender background check.

Homeless youth under 18 without their parents who cannot get into the adult cold weather shelters can call the Great Circle 24/7 Help Line at (417)861-4244. Great Circle has an emergency youth shelter year round.