Volunteers search streets for people without shelter in frigid conditions

Searching the streets: Volunteers help homeless survive bitter cold

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Volunteers with southern Indiana homeless outreach organization, Jesus Cares at Exit 0, are checking the streets to make sure no one is left outside.

The organization opened an emergency shelter Tuesday to help anyone without shelter in the frigid temperatures.

On Tuesday, 20 people slept at the shelter.

Paul Stensrud, Director of Jesus Cares at Exit 0, said 20 people were also using the shelter on Wednesday night. They have also sheltered five animals since Tuesday.

The group is providing food and extra warm clothing to those staying there.

Dr. Mike Bonacum drove the group’s van Tuesday and Wednesday night, along with two other volunteers.

Bonacum said they have been driving around southern Indiana looking for anyone who may be sleeping in the cold with few supplies to keep them warm.

“It’s a time where it’s much more urgent that we find people,” Bonacum said. “None of the homeless in the area are completely adequately equipped for this kind of weather.”

With temperatures in the single digits Wednesday night, Bonacum and the two other volunteers drove around looking for footprints in the snow that may lead to someone who needs help.

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“It doesn’t take long for people to get hurt or get injured or wind up with hypothermia in an environment such as this,” Bonacum said.

Tuesday night they found nine people on the streets, and gave them warm food and other supplies to make it through the night. Wednesday night they helped three people. None of the people they found wanted to go to a shelter.

The group also filled up a blessing box with gloves and food for someone to grab if they need it.

“Now we have a full community cupboard,” Bonacum said.

Stensrud said case work was provided Wednesday morning. During that time, eight people received state issued IDs, 20 people went to Goodwill to get clothes they need to layer up, and 10 people are working to get birth certificates so they can get an ID which will allow them to apply for housing and get into other shelters.

Stensrud said none of this would be possible without the volunteers.

The emergency shelter at West Maple Church in Jeffersonville will remain open until Friday morning.

For more information on Jesus Cares at Exit 0, click or tap here.

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