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Prolonged Cold Strains Salvation Army's Outreach

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The prolonged cold has done nothing to help the Salvation Army, especially in the face of an already strained budget, the organization so use to helping others is in need of help itself.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The prolonged cold has done nothing to help the Salvation Army, especially in the face of an already strained budget, the organization so use to helping others is in need of help itself.

"We're trying to help people survive the cold and not succumb to the cold weather," Jeff Smith said.

Smith works to organize the Salvation Army's emergency cold shelter for people who don't have a home.

"We've had so many cold spells. We've been open for 34 days already this winter, compared to 24 days last winter," he said. 

This year, emergency cold shelter workers and volunteers are working more than usual because of the unusual amount of prolonged cold.

The shelter opens whenever the wind chill dips to 14 degrees or below.

Related link: SalvationArmy.org.

'There have been a lot of cold spells so far this winter," Smith said. "This year, our numbers are really high."

The extra cold is bringing in extra people.

"We've already served 376 unduplicated individuals who said, 'Hey, I don't have a place to stay because it's so cold outside,'" Smith said. "It's definitely affecting our resources and our financial resources."

It costs about ten dollars per person, per night to run the shelter, but workers say it's hard to put a price on a safe haven.

"We're trying to save lives and if we even save one life, then mission accomplished," Smith said.

That's why the shelter is making a plea to the public. They say money and manpower are in short supply. Last month, the Salvation Army reported a $400,000 budget shortfall moving into 2014.

"We need people who are dedicated to working with this population to help us out," Smith said. "When you're averaging 80 people a night or 85 a night. We've already had one night 103 people in one night. We need the extra help."

For more information about the Springfield Salvation Army, visit salvationarmy.org.
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