HARTSVILLE, S.C. (WBTW) — Many people were impacted by winter weather over the weekend, but those experiencing homelessness were put in an especially dangerous position.
That led Pastor Jim Blue of Hartsville’s Second Baptist Church to open the church’s doors to those stuck in the cold.
“When people come here, they can find a warm place, a safe environment,” Blue said. “They can find a hot meal, and if they need someone to talk to, they can talk to a pastor.”
The church was transformed into a warming shelter full of tables, chairs and cots for those who had no way to escape the severe weather. Blue said he first started using the church to shelter those in need during an ice storm years ago.
“I just wondered where the homeless or less-fortunate people would go,” Blue said. “The spirit said, ‘Open up the shelter,’ and we have been doing that ever since.”
He said the church served about 40 people throughout the weekend, handing out bags of food and blankets and allowing people to stay inside. Blue, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, said veterans facing homelessness are especially close to his heart.
“We’ve got homeless veterans around here, walking around with bronze stars and purple hearts — and it doesn’t bother us,” Blue said.
Blue said churches in Hartsville have had to care for those in need because there is not a homeless shelter near the city. He cited recent efforts to construct a multimillion dollar animal shelter and questioned why constructing a shelter for people is not a priority.
“Not that dogs and animals are not important to me, they are,” Blue said. “But at the same time, a dog can sleep out in the rain. What about your fellow man?”
In the meantime, he said he will continue to open his church to people in need.
“We are here to support them during their time of trouble because we never know when we are going to need each other,” Blue said.