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Thursday, December 02, 2021

Cold weather supplies donated to homeless residents this week

<p>John Roberts, 56, left, and Daniel Walters, 53, sit on a bench on Bo Diddley Community Plaza on Friday night. Temperatures will dip into the low 40s over the next few nights.</p>

John Roberts, 56, left, and Daniel Walters, 53, sit on a bench on Bo Diddley Community Plaza on Friday night. Temperatures will dip into the low 40s over the next few nights.

Tommy Scott can barely sleep when it’s cold outside.

Scott, 56, was recently in the hospital for two weeks because he slept outside and didn’t have enough blankets to keep him warm and keep his asthma at bay.

Whenever St. Francis House offers cold-night shelter, he makes sure to stay overnight.

Organizations keep homeless people warm and safe during the cold nights.

While the temperature drops and the crisp winter wind breezes through, the amount of supplies to assist the homeless change daily, according to local community officials.

Scott slept at the shelter during cold nights for the past two years.

“I’m always treated really good,” he said.

He said that in the past when the temperature was about 20 to 35 degrees, the shelter ran out of cots to give out.

“It got so goddamn full,” he said.

The room filled with men and women separated by a divider, he said.

Scott said he plans to stay at St. Francis for the next couple of nights because it’s going to be cold.

Temperatures will dip into the low 40s over the next few nights.

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He said he thinks many of the people who sleep on Bo Diddley Community Plaza and in “Tent City” will follow suit.

The City of Gainesville/Alachua County Office on Homelessness replenished its supplies after running out of jackets to give to the homeless last week.

When the office reached out to the city, people responded by helping out and donating, said Theresa Lowe, director of the City of Gainesville/Alachua County Office on Homelessness.

“This has been a community partnership,” Lowe said.

The office gives away blankets, socks and scarves.

Jackets are given away daily.

In the past two weeks, the organization gave about 50 to 60 jackets, she said.

St. Francis House provides cold-night shelter for the homeless when the temperature is 45 degrees or lower.

Kent Vann, executive director at St. Francis House, said the cold-night shelter provides a person who doesn’t have anywhere to stay a safe and warm place to sleep.

“This saves lives,” Vann said. “A freeze warning can cost a life.”

The shelter houses 35 people, but during cold-night temperatures, an additional 40 to 60 people stay the night, he said.

Guests check in by 8 p.m., and they receive a green cot, blankets and coffee.

In the morning, about 30 volunteers and six staffers provide the guests with a hot breakfast including eggs, bacon, pastries or oatmeal.

“The people are good, and they are appreciative of the services,” he said.

John Roberts, 56, left, and Daniel Walters, 53, sit on a bench on Bo Diddley Community Plaza on Friday night. Temperatures will dip into the low 40s over the next few nights.

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