Columbia shelter prepares for cold weather

COLUMBIA - With colder temperatures expected to arrive in mid-Missouri, shelters are preparing to care for those in need.

The Salvation Army Harbor House in Columbia offers various services to people in the cold.

Jordanna Boyd-Proctor, the director of the Harbor House, said their building becomes a warming center on days when temperatures are 32 degrees or lower.

"Anyone can come in from outdoors and warm up in our lobby for as long as they need to," Boyd-Proctor said. "We also share other community resources with them while they're here in case we fill our available cots for the evening, so that way they'll be ready ahead of time and have somewhere to go."

The cold cots program is something the shelter offers to people who don't have a warm place to sleep at night.

Boyd-Proctor said the program runs on nights when the overnight low drops below 35 degrees. She says the shelter has 15 spots that are filled on a first come, first serve basis.

"Individuals come in at 4 and get registered," Boyd-Proctor said. "They're invited to join us for dinner at 5 and then they utilize the cots overnight."

Boyd-Proctor said Harbor House collaborates with other shelters in Columbia, like Room at the Inn, to make sure everyone seeking shelter has a warm place to sleep.

"When the temperatures get really cold and Room at the Inn starts filling up, then individuals are referred over here," Boyd-Proctor said. "We usually reach capacity, as well."

Boyd-Proctor said the community helps by donating warm clothing items to assist people in need.

"We are very blessed. We get a lot of donations from community members," Boyd-Proctor said. "If individuals do choose not to take shelter, at least they have those items available with them to help try to keep them warm and safe."