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Salvation Army Opens Warming Center

December 15, 2013, 10:38 PM by Leland Steva

Salvation Army Opens Warming Center

With the cold temperatures, the homeless in Sioux Falls are always looking for a warm place to spend the night.

The Salvation Army gym is filled with people enjoying a warm meal. The religious organization picks the weekend to make sure people in need can get fed.

"Well. we serve what we call our night watch, on Saturday and Sunday, because The Banquet isn't open and we want to make sure that people have their physical needs met," Major Thomas Riggs said.

Once people ate, the transformation from dining room to bedroom quickly starts with everyone pitching in. Justin Northcutt has been coming to the Salvation Army for two years and he knows the sense of community that the homeless have when they come to the Salvation Army.

"We're all in the same situation, so we try and you know, just keep that in mind," Northcutt said.

Because the gym was being used for other activities, the warming center is opening the doors two weeks later than last year, amid sub-zero temperatures. There are also some other changes to the gym with an emphasis on safety.

"Well. the challenge is always staffing people for our staff. We've put in some security measures. We got cameras in the building in different locations so we can have a better view of what's going on. We want the people to be safe who are working as well as the people using the program," Riggs said.

Northcutt knows that no matter what is in the gym or what time it opens, what the Salvation Army offers to the community is invaluable.

"Just happy that they're here for us. Not having to stay out in the cold. Not having to worry about, you know, freezing to death or anything like that, so that's a real blessing for everybody," Northcutt said.

The warming center is prepared to hold about 70 people each night.

If you are interested in helping out, there's information online or call Major Tom Riggs at 605-338-6649 ext. 313. 

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