Extreme cold prompts shelter to expand services

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COLUMBIA - With temperatures dropping dangerously low, people without homes are looking for warmth. Now, local organizations are looking for help to fill the need.

Room at the Inn, located at Broadway Christian Church, is extending its shelter services. It will remain open until March 9 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 a.m.

The church typically holds 50 members, but with the extreme cold weather, organizers said they plan to host as many as 60 members Thursday and Friday.

The Shelter Operations Coordinator, Jim jantz said it was an easy decision to make.

"It's brutally cold right now and we realized last Monday we needed to extend the season," he said.

Room at the Inn supplies cots, some food, minor medical treatments such as cold medicine and other needs, when available.

"We try to provide socks, it's really important particularly when it rains and snows that people have dry feet and dry socks. Otherwise, they're at risk of getting trench-foot," Jantz said. 

Because extending the hours was a fairly recent decision, the shelter is short on volunteers.

"We'd like to have 14 a day, the last time we looked at the sign-up the numbers for Thursday and Friday were a little low," Jantz said. 

Volunteers help prepare food, set up, clean, check in guests, help with guest needs and can interact and play games, if they find the time.

Other than needing volunteers, Room at the Inn is looking to become its own home.

"Room at the Inn would love to have a permanent building, we feel that moving from church to church throughout the season is just a stop-gap measure," Jantz said. "We are very appreciative of the churches, but the churches aren't meant to shelter people, they're not really living spaces. It would be better if we had a dedicated building for that purpose." 

Room at the Inn is for people 18 years and older. It does not require an ID or background check.