As record-breaking cold weather sweeps through Halifax, local shelters are rushing to accommodate a surge in demand for beds and warm winter clothing.
Earlier this week, the Adsum House for women and children put out a call on social media for gently-used women’s coats, hats, boots and mittens. The harsh temperatures have roughly 40 people visiting the shelter’s clothing room per day, said the charity’s fund development officer, whose phone has been ringing off the hook since the Facebook post went up on Thursday.
“We had literally no warm coats here yesterday and already, we have lots of puffy jackets already to go,” Kathy McNab told Global News.
“The need has increased a lot in the last few years as more and more people are struggling with low incomes and the price of housing in our city, and people are using their regular budgets for clothing and for food to pay the rent every month so they just don’t have the extra money.”
Adsum House has received bags upon bags of donations from individuals, businesses and other non-profits, and expects more to pour in the weeks to come. Many of these groups have also offered their support to Out in the Cold – another shelter that has been forced to act quickly with the frigid temperatures.
That shelter, which operates out of Saint Matthew’s United Church on Barrington Street, bumped up its opening date from Dec. 1, 2018 to Friday evening after news spread that other shelters in Halifax had been filled up. Construction crews had been repairing and renovating the floors since last week and scrambled to get the job done in time.
“All of the shelters are at capacity right now so we’re just opening early as a response to that, and as well as the cold weather snap we’re having,” explained shelter co-ordinator Rebecca Whitzman. “And it’s in dangerous conditions right now so we just want to make sure that nobody’s on the streets.”
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Out of the Cold’s 15 cots were spoken for by the time it opened late Friday evening.
Both Adsum House and Out of the Cold are collecting warm clothing, toys, books, gift cards, toiletries and other essentials in preparation for the holiday season.