Hattiesburg, Laurel shelters protect homeless in freezing temps - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Hattiesburg, Laurel shelters protect homeless in freezing temperatures

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The needy and homeless, who do not have steady heat, are struggling to stay warm in the Pine Belt this week.

The frigid temperatures have residents in need picking up blankets at Christian Services in Hattiesburg.

"It's so cold, it's drafty in the house," said Hattiesburg resident Daisy McCullar who was as Christian Services Tuesday looking for blankets. "We've got gas, but it's still so cold and stuff, and I'm getting one for my nephew in a wheelchair."

George and Angela Taylor of Petal said they were running heat in one room of their home because they couldn't afford to do otherwise.

"It was cold last night, but we made it," said George. "This morning we got up from under the blankets till we got the front room heated up. We had to light it with a striker to heat it up because it's gas."

Bill Prout, founder of Christian Services said they've given away dozens of blankets and are expecting more in community donations.

"Whatever we can get a hold of - we've made a call for coats, hats, gloves, blankets, whatever we can get a hold of because we want to make that as many of these people as we can, we supply their need in this time of need," said Prout.

There are hundreds of needy people in the Pine Belt, according to Kathy garner, who works with several homeless outreach organizations around Hattiesburg. She said recent figures put the number of homeless at 600 for Forrest and Jones counties, not counting those who jump from home to home.

Advocates say many of the Pine Belt's homeless live in communities in the wilderness. Often these groups are made up of single men.

"We call them neighborhoods without walls," said Garner. "There are probably some five or six areas within the city limits and adjacent to the city limits where people have found they can live unseen and be safe."

Garner said the weather will not be safe for those outdoors this week.

"I mean this is frostbite weather," she added. "This is weather that people die in. So there is no need for anyone to be in a place that is not warm."

Garner said many of the city's homeless seek shelter in malls and libraries during the day. At night the Salvation Army's shelters in Hattiesburg and Laurel are open whenever the weather dips below 40 degrees. This week they plan to be open 24 hours a day through Monday beginning at 5 p.m. Thursday.

A photo id is needed to enter.

Local Shelters:

AIDS Services Coalition
P.O. Box 169
Hattiesburg, MS 39403-0169
Phone: (601) 450-4286 

Forrest General Hospital
(Pine Grove Center)
2255 Broadway Drive
Hattiesburg, MS 39402
Phone: (601) 288-4720
Fax: (601) 288-4834

Salvation Army of Laurel
129 North 13th Avenue, Laurel
Phone: (601) 428-4232

Salvation Army of Hattiesburg
5670 US 49, Hattiesburg
Phone: (601)-543-0363

Christian Services of Hattiesburg
301 East 2nd Street
Hattiesburg, MS 39401-2154
Phone: (601) 582-5683


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