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Cold weather shelter opens today
Funds, volunteers needed
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Homeless men will finally have a warm place to sleep away from the freezing temperatures, icy breezes and frosty mornings, as the We Care cold weather shelter is scheduled to open up today.

Last year, We Care was able to open up the shelter doors on Nov. 8 with the help of additional funding from the American Reinvestment Recovery Act, but this year they are opening up on their traditional day of Dec. 1 with no additional funds available for an early opening.

“We couldn’t open up earlier this time because last year was one time funding only,” said Maris Sturtevant, treasurer for We Care. “At some point, we would like to be open full time.”

But until then, they will be open for four months accommodating 34 men who sleep in their own rooms. The men will be able to wash their clothes, shower and eat a homemade meal donated by area volunteers.

We Care is typically open from Dec. 1 through March 31, depending on funding available.

Currently it takes about $80,000 to $85,000 to keep the shelter running for four months and We Care has about $50,000 raised from grants, church donations and yard sales so far. They are expecting to be able to stay open the full four months, but it all depends on funds coming in.

“We just have to keep going,” Sturtevant said.

We Care is planning to apply for additional grants soon and they have a new fundraising program through SHARES cards. The cards can be used for free at SaveMart and FoodMaxx stores with 3 percent of the purchase being donated to the We Care program.

Along with funding, We Care is in need of more volunteers to provide meals for the homeless men who stay at the shelter.

There are about three to four days available every month through March for volunteers to make and serve meals.

Volunteers are needed to prepare a meal for about 40 people. Dinner is served at 7 p.m. every night. There is no longer a need for volunteers to bring plastic or paper plates and utensils because We Care has purchased new dinner ware for their guests.

“We don’t have throwaways anymore,” said Debbie Gutierrez, We Care manager. “They no longer have a throw away life.”

The men that stay in the shelter wash their own dishes after dinner and do their own chores to keep the shelter clean.

Those interested in donating funds to keep the shelter running in the winter months, volunteering to make dinner or interested in a SHARES card, can contact Gutierrez at 620-2414.

To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.