A green cot and a pillow doesn't look like much, but for those seeking shelter from the cold, the warming center at the Salvation Army in Sioux Falls can mean everything. With sub-zero temperatures and even worse wind chills, the center has been very busy when open from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m.
"Terribly bitter cold outside and at those hours when there is nothing open, nothing available, we're glad to have people here. We set up originally for 40 people; we're running 60 to 65 even," Major Thomas Riggs said.
Major Riggs with the Salvation Army says those who are seeking a break from the elements range in age from teenagers to the elderly. When they're at the center, they can get some rest, a bite to eat and even clean up with a shower.
When it comes to those who use the warming center's services, it might be easy to say it is serving the homeless of Sioux Falls. But that's not necessarily the case.
"Some of the people who are staying here are working, but because they're working a minimum wage job, they're unable to maintain their apartment or they're temporarily displaced. So we provide and opportunity for them to be out of the cold," Major Riggs said.
And with another night ahead with dangerous cold outside, the Salvation Army is preparing to offer warmth to those who need it.
"I think we'll have a full house. We've got room to put up another ten cots if necessary. If we become that full, people can sit in the chairs, relax and just be out of the cold. That's the main thing, just be out of the cold," Major Riggs said.
And in these conditions, that can be a matter of life or death.
The warming center opened in December and will remain open, as needed, through April. The Salvation Army is always in needs of blankets and towels.