Temperatures are going to be chilling this weekend, and the wind chill even worse.
Many take for granted being able to just stay home and keep warm. But for those who don’t have a home, frigid temperatures leave them in a dangerous situation.
“We’re just really worried that there isn’t going to be enough capacity at the shelters, so we want to help out by opening up this weekend overnight so that people that are overflow and don’t have an opportunity to go can have a place to stay warm,” says Pastor Mike Ballman, of Cornerstone Community Church.
The church doesn’t do overnights anymore, but they will Friday and Saturday. But there are still needs.
“Because we weren’t doing overnights this winter, we gave all of our blankets to people who are sleeping outside so they’d have something, or, people sleeping in abandoned buildings, and we gave all of our blankets, I mean, hundreds fo them away,” says Pastor Ballman.
Local attorney Rebecca Wittman, who regularly volunteers feeding the homeless at the church, put out a call on her Facebook page. She posted a picture of a man in need of a winter coat. His is lightweight and torn. More than 80 comments, everyone from a New York State State Supreme Court justice, to retired business people and others just trying to keep their own heads above water, all offering to bring jackets and blankets.
Wittman spent part of Tuesday delivering donations to the church, from several counties. Also heartwarming — collaboration with the county, which often happens after hours.
“Especially on nights when there’s no vacancy anywhere or there might be someone who has a particular problem that can’t be solved during normal channels and he offered me to text him anytime that happens and any time I do he gets right back to me and almost always we find a solution,” said Pastor Ballman, of Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, who is offering some unorthodox solutions.
“We’re also looking at, kind of unique, we’re also looking at opening up possibly a part of this building at nighttime just to keep people warm, because we see an overflow,” says Picente.
Ballman says the outreach “feels great for our people, because they know people really care about them.”
Anyone who’d like to drop off cold weather items, like jackets, sweatpants, socks, or blankets, can do so every night 7-9 p.m., at 500 Plant Street, in Utica. To arrange another donation time, message Cornerstone Community Church on their Facebook page.