Cold snap gets attention of nonprofits helping homeless

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jan 6, 2014 1:52 PM

(Harrisburg) -- The National Weather Service is warning of dangerously cold temperatures in central Pennsylvania tonight and tomorrow, with a wind chill up to minus 25.

A group of midstate charities expect more demand for their services tonight, as the cold front moves into the area.

Christian Churches United, Bethesda Mission, Catholic Charities and a group of churches in downtown Harrisburg are all a part of a continuous effort to get the homeless into a warm place from December 1st through March 31st.

"Obviously the needs are greater for those people that are homeless and have nowhere to go. There's a lot of people living under the bridges and they have makeshift tents and little cities. But when the temperatures get 1, 2, 3, degrees, they can't sustain living like that," says Mark Totaro, CEO of Catholic Charities in Harrisburg.

"We receive calls all the time. Sometimes, they're not even for shelter. Some people ask us for clothing or food or whatever we can provide for them." Some people do have shelter, but they need the other incidents besides shelter."

Totaro says Catholic Charities has about 150 winter jackets for children, plus blankets, but is always accepting donations.

Christian Churches United says its men's shelter at Susquehanna Harbor Safe Haven in Harrisburg has been at its 25 person capacity most nights this season.

Jackie Rucker with the group says single women can get help from the YWCA on Market Street as well.

Similar efforts are underway across the region.

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