How the extreme cold impacts area homeless shelters

Grand Strand

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – As temperatures on the Grand Strand dramatically drop, area homeless shelters prepare to serve an unpredictable amount of clients.

New Directions serves 185 people each night, and during cold snaps like we’re experiencing now, that number could rise by 40-50.

New Directions provides housing, food and other services for 90 people at their men’s shelter and 24 people at their women’s shelter. They have an additional 12 beds in a transitional facility and 55 in a family shelter.

Kathy Jenkins, executive director at New Directions tells News13, shelters in other parts of the country can be prepared for cold weather as many have extra staffing during the winter months. However, because weather on the coast is unpredictable and our cold weather doesn’t typically last for weeks at a time, it can put a strain on resources.

“You can’t staff full time for the nights you are going to have 40 or 50 extra people in your shelter so during those nights we’re pulling extra people, extra volunteers to help us and it’s very different,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins says many people reach out and want to provide direct service items like shampoo or clothing, but everything the staff and volunteers at New Directions do are direct services through food, safety, shelter and hope.

She explains, monetary donations can go a long way in taking care of the bills they have to pay for all of their facilities.

“For 14 dollars a night, you can provide food, shelter and safety for one person,” Jenkins said. “That’s a man, a woman, a parent, a child; we serve them all.”

One thing Jenkins says the shelters are always in need of though are paper products like toilet paper and paper towels.

New Directions will host a “Fill the Truck” food drive next week as part of National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week. 

You can drop canned food and non-perishable items off at the New Directions Men’s Shelter (1005 Osceola St. in Myrtle Beach) November 18-22.

If you would like to become a volunteer for New Directions, click here.

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