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Protecting the homeless during winter weather

Posted at 8:52 PM, Jan 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-10 23:17:59-05

TULSA, Okla. — Shelters are opening their doors Friday night to get those living on the streets out of the bad weather.

“Tonight represents, not even exaggerating, a crisis," said Rev. Steve Whitaker, the CEO and senior pastor for John 3:16 Mission.

The homeless are not strangers to dealing with bad weather.

“Very horrible," said Thomas Fisher, who is staying at John 3:16. "Even the lightest of rain is not easy because you never know when it’s going to turn into a big downpour which is going to turn into hail maybe.”

Fisher is one of nearly 200 men who will be staying at John 3:16 Friday night. The shelter meets every month to discuss its cold weather plan. One of their goals: warn those living on the streets to get inside.

“Somebody’s going to be out here," Whitaker said. "They’re going to think it’s warm, but it’s going to turn out brutally, killer cold. And if we don’t get a hold of them, if somebody doesn’t reach them, somebody’s going to be in trouble tonight.”

Whitaker said they have mats, beds and blankets for anyone who needs shelter Friday night. He said they get many donations throughout the holidays, but it has now slowed down. He encourages anyone who can to donate items like hats, gloves, socks and underwear.

“We’ve still got to be there for the people that are struggling with homelessness," he said. "Compassion demands it. Justice demands that we take care of our homeless.”

For those living on the streets, John 3:16 and other shelters are their only place of refuge on a cold winter night.

“Without John 3:16 I wouldn’t have a place to sleep," Fisher said. "I’d be out there in the park."

Whitaker said they’re going to take in as many people as they can tonight and there is no limitation on how long they can stay while the weather is bad.

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