Cold Weather Unites Community

by Marc Jolin

This past week was the first serious cold snap of the year and it brought supporters out in large numbers to assist those sleeping on our streets. Thank you so much for responding to our call for donations of blankets, sleeping bags, hats, gloves, socks, and tarps.

You brought us hundreds of items, and out outreach team put in long hours getting those items out to people sleeping outside throughout the city. The outreach workers also transported dozens of people to the emergency shelters that opened during the sever weather, and worked to ensure that people who couldn’t care for themselves were brought to safety.

Just one example of the people you helped: on Sunday, the severe cold had passed but the cold rain had started. The Red Cross shelter at the Portland Foursquare Church had closed. JOIN took a car load of your donated sleeping bags, jackets, and tarps and parked outside the Foursquare to catch anyone who didn’t know the shelter was closed and didn’t have gear to get through the night sleeping outside.

Among the dozen or so people who we saw that night was a man who had just been discharged from the hospital. He arrived on Trimet with just a thin jacket, shirt, pants and tennis shoes. His initial response upon learning of the shelter’s closure was despair.

Because of your donations, we were able to give him a warm coat, a tarp, a new sleeping bag, a hat, a sleeping pad, and gloves. We also gave him a bus ticket and directions to a shelter that we hoped might have room for him.

That night we also were able to provide gear to two single women, a couple, and several additional men, none of whom would otherwise have been prepared to sleep outside. And over the course of the week you helped us help hundreds more like them.