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Always help

The Salvation Army keeps its shelters open year-round to help with emergencies like winter freezes and bad weather.

M.A. Smith December 23rd, 2013

Oklahoma has already survived several winter storms, with digits well below freezing.

That’s why the Salvation Army’s Central Oklahoma Area Command is open for everyone. Jeanean South, director of development, said emergency shelters are open 24/7 and will provide a place to sleep, hot drinks, meals, coats, gloves and other winter weather necessities.

“There’s no requirement to receive help at the shelters,” South said. “If there is a human need, The Salvation Army is there to help them.”

Both locations, at 501 S. Harvey Ave. in Oklahoma City and 318 E. Hayes St. in Norman, have accelerated services for those in need of a respite from the cold.

Each year, the shelters extend their services during extreme cold, ice storms and snow. Volunteers work around the clock, preparing for an increased flow of people seeking shelter.

“We provide more than 29,000 nights of shelter in Central Oklahoma,” South said. “We’ve helped hundreds so far, just from this winter storm alone. Basically, we are willing to accommodate as many people as we have to. We canpull out cots and extra bedding … during emergency mode.”

This winter, most people who reach out have no home or encounter unexpected circumstances.

“There’s a variety of people who use the facilities,” South said. “Some of the people never expected to be put in a situation to need help. Others have medical concerns and need to get out of the cold weather.”

South said the shelters aren’t just for winter months. Both locations are open all year, and residents can hang out in the common room, eat a meal at 5 p.m. every night and get a good night’s sleep.

Every year, The Salvation Army helps about 140,000 people in Central Oklahoma through its shelter, food assistance and transportation programs.

One of the best aspects about the shelter is there is no limit on how long a person can stay.

“Some people have stayed up to nine months,” South said.

South said the organization also is in need of winter clothes, toiletries, food and monetary donations.

“We always have a need to get more warm clothes out to our residents,” she said.

Donations may be made online at salvationarmyokcac.org. All money donated through the site will be spent in Central Oklahoma.

Gently used coats or clothes can be dropped off at The Salvation Army, 311 SW Fifth Street, or at Legacy Cleaners, 49th Street and Western Avenue. Residents in need of emergency shelter can either show up at one of the locations or call 246-1080.

The Salvation Army was started in Oklahoma City on Oct. 18, 1900, with a $50 grant from city officials. The organization used the funds to put up its first shelter, a large tent, to serve to the hungry and those in need of aid.

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