Freeze brings out best

WARREN – Organizations around Trumbull and Mahoning counties have been providing blankets, coats and other warm weather gear to people needing help during the cold snap hovering over northeast Ohio.

Members of the Warren Family Mission, Salvation Army of Warren, Catholic Charities Diocese of Youngstown the Rescue Mission of Mahoning Valley spent the weekend providing blankets, coats, gloves, hats and other cold weather clothing to those in need throughout the valley.

“We decided over the weekend to give away all of the cold weather clothing we had,” Capt. Michael Morales of the Salvation Army said.

At about noon Monday afternoon, the agency had already provided clothing and blankets to more than 400 people and still had others waiting in line for help.

“As long as we have items to give away we will,” Morales said. “People wanting to help can bring kids’ coats and other clothing of all sizes. We need hats, mittens, and even blankets. That’s the big thing.”

Monday’s high temperature was 45 degrees and its low was -9 degrees, according to the Weather Channel. The previous record for Jan. 6 was -2, which was established in 1959.

Today’s high is projected to be 4 degrees, and the low 2 degrees. Record low temperatures for Jan. 7 was -6, which was established in 1988.

Chuck McCorkle, a building manager at the Warren Family Mission, 361 Elm Road, said the organization has gotten an influx of clothing items and blankets since news about a pre-teen girl gathering between 300 and 400 blankets for the poor and homeless was announced this weekend.

Selena Rockenfelder, 9, of Warren, collected the blankets from friends, family and community members and delivered them Friday. It was the second year she undertook the project. Her grandmother is Betty Strawderman of Betty’s Angels, a program that provides temporary housing for homeless children whose families are having financial and legal problems. Selena said she wanted to help.

McCorkle said that after the story of Selena’s project ran in the Tribune Chronicle on Saturday, “We had a group of people come in on Sunday to provide blankets and clothing. We’ve been giving away what we’ve been getting to people who need help during our meals.”

Area residents wanting to help Warren Family Mission can take clothing and other gifts to its locations at 361 Elm Road and 2671 Youngstown Road.

“We will accept either used or new items,” he said. “For people who do not have warm coats, scarves or gloves, used items are welcomed and appreciated.”

The men’s shelter on Elm Road had six new people come in for shelter and help since Friday, bringing the number of people sleeping there during this expected bitter cold period to 36.

“We have been receiving calls from people asking what is available,” McCorkle said.

Warren Family Mission has room for more than 60 adult males at its Elm Road shelter.

“We want people needing to get out of the cold to come in,” he said. “We’ll make room.”

Teresa Hosey, administrative manager of the Amos Christy House, 919 Main Ave., said the shelter is nearly full, but someone needing to get out the expected bitter cold of the next several days.

“We take people on a first come, first service basis,” Hosey said. “We provide shelter to men, women and children.”

Christy House provides 26 beds for people needing shelter. Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board and PsyCare of Warren Provide money and materials for 10 additional cots.

“If someone knocks on our door needing to get out of the cold, we’re not going to turn them away,” Hosey said. “If they have to sit up in the corner all night, we will provide a place for them to stay.”

Hosey, however, does say that people seeking a place to stay after 11 p.m. will have to go to the Warren police first before they can get into the facility because they lock the building’s doors for security purposes.

Christy House officials works with the Warren Family Mission, the Salvation Army, the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley during times when the agency needs help in providing shelter.

“We recommend people call 211 for help when we are beyond capacity,” Hosey said.

Catholic Charities of Mahoning Valley is continuing a several month effort in collecting winter clothing and blankets to provide to low income and homeless adults and children.

“In the last week, we’ve increase our efforts to go out to areas where we know the homeless frequent,” Nancy Voitus, regional executive director of Catholic Charities. “We are working closely with area help phone lines, doing phone checks with seniors, and have been taking more calls for people needing help with their heating bills.”

Catholic Charities is working closely with Youngstown’s health department’s health nurse, as well as the Salvation Army in Trumbull County and the Warren-Youngstown Urban League.

“We’ve been accepting blankets, sleeping bags, coats, gloves and hats that can be given out to those in need,” Voitus said. “Anyone wanting to provide assistance can call 330-393-4251 in Warren and 330-744-3320 in Youngstown.”

As the deep freeze of 2014 arrived Monday it brought very cold negative temperatures.

In order to help people stay warm, the Salvation Army in Warren gave away hundreds of free winter coats to those in need. Blankets, hats, scarves, and gloves were also given away.

People dropped off donations during the past week and Sunday. Donations came from the Warren Rotary, Berk Enterprises and local funeral homes.

Captains Diana and Michael Morales of the Salvation Army said they wanted to make sure everyone is able to stay warm, and that no one is left cold with more than 400 coats given out.

Volunteers with the Salvation Army were also taking a canteen with beef stew, coffee, crackers and other food to the homeless people of the area at the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library parking lot and the bridge area by the flea market off Main Street.

The Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley also held a coat giveaway Monday. More than 100 gently worn coats were available to the public with distribution at the resident facilities in Youngstown and also at the mission.

Bob Coupland contributed to the story.

rsmith@tribtoday.com