Churches providing shelter, ask for donations during chilly weather

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With local homeless shelters expected to be full during this week’s chilly weather, some churches are also providing temporary shelter during the stretch of freezing cold nights.

With homeless shelters in Dallas overflowing, churches like Oak Lawn United Methodist have opened their doors to take in more people.

It is more than relief from the cold. In some cases, when the temperature is below freezing, it's life and death.                    

With every homeless shelter over capacity Monday night, the dining hall at The Bridge in Downtown Dallas will sleep dozens. Conference rooms and, in some cases, closets will be filled with cots.

About 400 people will sleep at The Bridge Monday night. As many as a third of them could be veterans on Veterans Day, according to the president and CEO.

"Last year, we had as many as 800 folks who had no night shelter available to them during the coldest weather,” said The Bridge President David Woody III.

The homeless living in camps are urged to take shelter for their own safety. Shelter providers know not everyone does.

Woody is so concerned that there are homeless people who won't survive the night that he spent part of his day at a meeting with representatives from local churches, like Oak Lawn United Methodist, who are offering emergency shelter to help. And there's a need for more than just shelter.

Nick Marino Jr. helped lead a group of people in Dallas in packing 600 bags of blankets, socks and toiletries for the homeless at a Tango

"That's why we specifically had the event yesterday outside because we told the individuals there that it's going to be cold for two hours,” Marino said. “But because you're going to be out here for two hours, that's nothing compared to these individuals who face this on a daily basis."

Woody says instead of giving money to panhandlers, donate to an organization like The Bridge. He says socks are like gold. They can always use donations, but also coats and winter weather clothing.

Oak Lawn United Methodist Church will be open from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. through Thursday morning. They are asking for any donations of winter weather clothing and socks.

"We definitely need warm clothes, hats, beanies, gloves, coats. Socks are huge," said Heather Gottas, the executive minister at the church.