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How to help the homeless in the extreme cold

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The pain of homelessness, which the Twin Cities Daily Planet reports impacts an estimated 14,000 Minnesotans, is especially acute during the bitter cold. It's also dangerous; the story notes that 147 Minnesotans died while homeless in 2013.

The Duluth News Tribune reported that at least two homeless people in Duluth recently suffered frostbite so severe that it may require amputations of toes and feet. The newspaper added that although the city's CHUM shelter is at 120 percent capacity, it is not turning anyone away unless they are violent or drinking. WCCO reported the Salvation Army is keeping its eight Twin Cities worship and service centers open, as well as its Harbor Light shelter in Minneapolis.

The temperatures across the state are dipping into sub-zero territory, with wind chills that may drop to 30 to 50 below zero. The National Weather Service warns that a those lows, frostbite is possible in just a matter of minutes.

KARE reported metro area outreach workers is seeking help in reaching the homeless. They ask anyone sees signs that someone might be living outside to call a hotline to they can be taken to a safe place.

  • Duluth Outreach Hotline: 218-461-8505 (24 hours)
  • Minneapolis Outreach Team: 612-879-7624

The Twin Cities Daily Planet surveyed metro shelters about their needs. Most said they appreciate gifts of cash, which allows them to buy food and provide necessities like heat and electricity.

Simpson Housing Services could use gloves for adults, new long underwear, blankets, and hand warmers. St. Stephen's Human Services in Minneapolis needs new or gently used warm socks and books, adult hats, mittens and gloves, sweatshirts, adult winter coats, and sleeping bags. The Dorothy Day Center in St. Paul can use donations of hats, scarves and gloves, as well as towels for showers. They also seek volunteers to hand out sandwiches and blankets at the shelter.

The Saint Paul Police Department also encourages citizens who have elderly or disadvantaged neighbors to check on them during the cold snap.

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