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Coming in out of the cold

Ria Dunnewold, a frontline worker at Haven in the Hollow, prepares mats for clients to sleep on this week when temperatures drop below freezing. - Carol Aun photo
Ria Dunnewold, a frontline worker at Haven in the Hollow, prepares mats for clients to sleep on this week when temperatures drop below freezing.
— image credit: Carol Aun photo

Cold weather shelter beds are expected to be available every day this week as temperatures dip below the freezing mark.

The program gives the homeless a chance to come out of the cold, said Monika Pilgrim, a frontline worker at Haven in the Hollow where the emergency beds are located.

Clients can come into the shelter beginning at 8:30 p.m. They are served breakfast the next day and are required to leave at 8:30 a.m.

There are 15 beds available at the Logan Avenue shelter, but only half of them were filled last month when extreme cold set in for the first time this season. Men and women sleep in separate dorms.

We're the only cold weather emergency shelter in Mission, designated by BC Housing, said Sanjay Gulati, executive director for Mission Community Services Society which runs the program.

"It's a fantastic program … to help people who are distraught by weather," said Gulati. "The staff are there to always help and support clients."

At this time of year, donations of socks, underwear and other warm clothing items, like scarves, can be donated to the shelter. Because of the lack of space to store other clothing donations, the non-profit group works with local thrift stores, like the Salvation Army and MCC, to provide an emergency set of clothing to those in need.

Gulati also notes the food centre, which the Christmas Bureau operates out of, is located behind the shelter and non-perishable food donations can be brought there.

"Technically, through the shelter program, we are only funded to provide one meal, but with donations, we can provide more," added Gulati.

The weather forecast calls for mostly clear skies this week with daily highs hovering around zero degrees celsius, and nightly lows around minus-five degrees and even colder this weekend.

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