When was the last time you were cold, like really cold?
For me, it was an October camping trip with friends. The sun was setting and we were starting to feel a chill in the humid air. Around the small campfire, we were warm enough, but sleeping in a tent as temperatures dropped below freezing was a different story.
I tossed and turned on the cold, wet ground, thanks to a deflated sleeping pad. I tried to find warmth by pulling the sleeping bag over my head, using hand warmers, wearing socks, then no socks, layering clothes around me, wearing a stocking hat, then no stocking hat, reciting Bible verses, and motivational quotes in my head. I even tried cuddling next to a friend’s golden retriever. The cold felt relentless. Without a clock for reference, I began to wonder if the night would ever end. I never slept, but it was only one miserable night.
It doesn’t come close to the stories of those who are homeless during the winter months. It’s not just one night out in the cold for them. They can’t just leave the cold behind and return to the familiarity of a warm home. The only chance they have of being warm is to find a shelter with availability for the night.
To help homeless individuals when temperatures drop below 40 degrees, Seacoast Church has partnered with the Arthur W. Christopher Community Center where volunteers will operate a warming center to provide shelter, a hot meal, and a blanket for overnight guests. The shelter can house 80 individuals each night.
According to a 2019 South Carolina State of Homelessness Report, there were 403 men, women, and children reported as being homeless in the Charleston area. Of those individuals, 32 percent were unsheltered—having no place to go for protection from the weather. They are at risk for hypothermia when the temperature drops below 40 degrees, with the risk increasing every night a person stays outside.
Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? – Isaiah 58:7
To provide this kind of care, we are asking several volunteers to serve at check-in, prepare meals, and assist guests. Consider signing up for a time during the weeks of January 17–24, and February 7–14 to help bring someone out of the cold.