January 14, 2012

USA: Elderly and homeless get help during cold weather

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama / ABC3340.com / January 14, 2012

By Sarah Snyder 

This cold snap has city and county resources stepping in to help families who can't afford the costly heating bill, particularly elderly and even homeless. But some of those organizations are out of resources to help.
"Seniors are calling saying they are cold in the house, they need blankets and comforters and things like that and many are without electric and gas," Barbara Shores, Director, Jefferson County Senior Services. 
Jefferson county seniors services says this cold snap got their phones ringing. But this year, they're finding more calls for help than donations to hand out.
"We have not received any donations," Shores said. "They've been down so far. It could be the economy. I'm thinking that's probably what it is."
They say, pricey power bills aren't leaving any extra cash for coats. But ABC 33/40 viewers are already helping out - about 4,000 coats were donated during our coat drive with More Than Conquerors Church and some of those donations will go to help elderly men and women unable to pay for heat this winter.
"Many of them stay in because they don't have warm coats so they bundle up quite a bit, but it will help them to socialize with other people and get out more than they normally would do," Shores said.
Tonight the Boutwell Auditorium became a hub for some of those seniors and  anyone needing to escape the frigid temperatures.
"They feed you, clothe you, shelter you, and take care of you," Leon Davis, who's staying at the Boutwell said. "They'll do anything to help you."
There are about 150 at the Boutwell Friday night. Volunteers have rolled out cots and put out blankets - even offering hats and coats for guests. Several local organizations are serving hot meals throughout the weekend. 
"We get reports from all over the country where someone has frozen on the street," Don Lupo, Director, Mayor's Office of Citizen's Assistance said. "We just can't have that. We'll continue to be open, we'll continue to serve."

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