There is an urgent need for donations of blankets, mitts and mats for guests at the Upper Room Mission who are trying to stay warm in these frigid conditions. (Upper Room Mission image)

Vernon’s homeless struggling to stay warm

Those in need hit the hardest by cold snap

Homeless shelters are packed and pleas for warmth are being made as temperatures in the North Okanagan have plummeted as low as -21 (and even colder in some areas) in recent days.

The freezing conditions are having the biggest impact on those living on the streets as they seek warmth on a daily basis.

“We are full at all of our sites including Gateway, Howard House and our Extreme Weather Response,” said Randene Wejr, co-executive director at Turning Points Collaborative Society, which manages the shelters.

“The unfortunate reality is that there is a shortage of shelter beds that is demonstrated during cold snaps such as the one we are in. We have been fortunate enough to have BC Housing continue to provide provisions when this does occur including adding additional hours to our Extreme Weather Response.”

See: Vernon homeless numbers rise

Things are starting to warm up gradually, with Environment Canada calling for a low of -1o Friday night and lows dipping to -16 Saturday night with a high of -6.

It’s still unbearable for those who don’t have a home to warm up in.

“It is bitterly cold,” the Upper Room Mission states. “Many of our guests are struggling to stay warm.”

Therefore a plea has been made for warmth.

Anyone with extra blankets and gloves to donate is urged to bring them to the Upper Room Mission (3403 27 Ave.) between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Donations can also be dropped off at the Upper Room Mission Boutique Thrift Store located next to the Upper Room Mission Monday through Saturday.

The public plea for support has already created some warmth.

On Monday, a young boy stopped by the Upper Room Mission to drop off two boxes of hand warmers for the guests.

And other donations continue to come in.

See: Community rallies after theft at Upper Room Mission

“The compassion and generosity showed to our guests during this frigid cold snap has been heartwarming,” the Mission said.

“Thanks to your donated blankets, mats, gloves and winter clothing, the marginalized and those sleeping rough in our community are a little bit warmer.”

But with temperatures still sitting well below zero, every bit of support helps.

“We continue to see an increase in the need for these items. If you can, please keep the donations coming. Know that your donation will make an immediate difference for somebody in our community.”


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Young Finley brought in two boxes of hand warmers Monday to the Upper Room Mission. (URM image)

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