Deep freeze increases demand at shelters

The holiday season is always a busy one for shelters across Sioux Falls. The string of weather the are has seen has placed a strain on getting winter clothes.
Published: Dec. 23, 2022 at 9:31 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The holiday season is always a busy one for shelters across Sioux Falls. The string of weather the area has seen has placed a strain on getting winter clothes out to those in need.

There haven’t been many busier places in Sioux Falls Friday than the Bishop Dudley Hospitality House. The dangerous wind chills have sent people all over town seeking shelter. Executive Director Madeline Shields said all day, they’ve had folks stop in at least for a little bit to warm up, with plenty more staying indoors as much as they can.

“These temperatures are deadly, and so we’re letting people in. We are a day shelter and an overnight shelter. So we are open all of the time. And so, people are coming in, they’re getting some coffee, they’re getting some hot tea.” Shields.

The Union Gospel Mission has also opened up it’s spaces for extended hours for folks to avoid the cold. That extends to getting people to and from where they need to go. St. Francis House Executive Director Julie Becker said they’ve been out early and late the past few days helping drive some of their guests to and from work, as it’s too cold for anyone to walk to work safely.

“The big thing is, we just don’t want anybody out walking in this weather. We have a gal that works three blocks from us, and we still said, ‘Let’s give you a ride to work.’” Becker said.

With that increased demand comes the need for more clothing donations. Both Shields and Becker say their organizations are handing out clothing just as fast as they receive it, but that work hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“I always tell people, you never know what you’re going to get five minutes after you enter South Dakota. Especially in the winter time, because it could be snowing, it could be with the sun shining.” Cara Prince said.

“It’s not just the holidays or anything like that. And these guys really do help us, it’s awesome and a lot. Especially during blistering cold days like this.” George Van Vooren said.

Shields said though not to worry about where to donate. That’s because plenty of organizations in town communicate with each other about what they have and need, and can share supplies between them when in need.

“What we can’t use, we will give to someone else who can use it. So it doesn’t matter where people go, everyone is in need this time of year, and we are all helping that same population. We just want to make sure that everybody is safe, everybody has a warm place to be.” Shields said.

All three organizations, The Bishop Dudley Hospitality House, St. Francis House, and the Union Gospel Mission say it’s not too late to donate for the holidays, as they’re all still in need of supplies especially winter clothing items.