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WDAY: The News Leader

Published January 12, 2012, 01:44 PM

Church steps up to house the homeless

Moorhead, ND (WDAY TV) - With winter temperatures drastically dipping compared to recent record highs, an unprecedented number of people is seeking shelter. As we first told you in November, churches planned to step up to the plate. Now, they are housing the homeless.

By: Travis Skonseng, WDAY

Moorhead, ND (WDAY TV) - With winter temperatures drastically dipping compared to recent record highs, an unprecedented number of people is seeking shelter. As we first told you in November, churches planned to step up to the plate. Now, they are housing the homeless.

87 people in need are spending the night here at this homeless shelter in Moorhead. All trying to escape the bitter cold. While some are in overflow, others have just been brought to a Fargo church to sleep.

Randy Schroeder is doing something hard for him to believe. Something he has never done before. Seek shelter at a shelter.

RANDY SCHROEDER – Homeless: “At first, it's embarrassing.”

Schroeder came to Moorhead from Illinois to find work, but with no money, he's had ask for help.

RANDY: “I always wondered where would I be tonight if I didn't have a place like Churches United or another host church to be warm. It's going to get dangerous at some point here in the near future.”

Schroeder has spent nearly 50 nights at Churches United. Three of them at a church, another first..

RANDY: “No never.”

PASTOR SUE KOESTERMAN - Elim Lutheran Church: “I fully expect as the weather turns and continues to be colder that there will be an even greater demand for shelter than there has been so far.”

For the past 11 days, 9 to 18 men have spent any given night, at a church. One of 8, taking turns, housing homeless. The maximum is 25 people.

SUE: “We've also determined that should the need become greater over the course of the winter that we would open two host sites during a given week rather than overtaxing one particular facility.”

The people staying at the church sleep on air mattresses and cover up in flannel blankets, all donated. A unique place for some, but better than being on the streets. A sanctuary with a mission of possibly saving lives.

RANDY: “If you have to be homeless, this has been I know it's odd to say, a great experience. I know that's odd to say. Something that I'll carry with me probably for the rest of my life.”

Four days worth of non-perishable food and water have been stocked in case of an emergency. That would feed 25 homeless and 15 volunteers, stranded in a winter storm.

That remarkable response at churches couldn't be possible without volunteers, but now your help is desperately needed. About 150 church volunteers have trained the past three weeks.

They learn how to supervise at the temporary shelters, that will be open through March. More training will be held this month and next.

The shelters are in need of donated supplies like toilet paper, drinks, and individually wrapped snacks.

JOHN ROBERTS - Churches United Shelter Director: “The churches have provided the space but without the transportation, without the volunteers, without the in kind donations, it simply could not happen so the support of the community is absolutely vital.”

To learn how to volunteer or donate, go to www.fmhomeless.org or call the F-M Coalition For Homeless Persons.

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