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Salvation Army Everett hires staff to run cold weather shelter

Cold weather shelter in Everett (KOMO Photo)

EVERETT, Wash. -- The temperature has dipped low enough in Western Washington that more and more local shelters are opening at night to get the homeless into some heat overnight.

The Salvation Army, on Rucker Avenue in Everett has room for 50 people to sleep on the floor. About 25 showed up the first night the shelter opened. That number, just through word of mouth, grew to 38 the second night and now Lt. Andrea Reedy, said she suspects they will be at capacity for the next several nights.

“Usually this is a fellowship hall, where we host meetings and children's programs, so we stop most of our programs during the cold season so that we accommodate running the shelter," she said.

Instead of the usual tables and chairs, the room is now filled with 50 mats, all numbered and laid out across the floor, with a bin full of blankets on one wall.

Lt. Reedy said they start allowing people to check in at 8 p.m. and they wrap that process up by 10 p.m. or when it’s full.

“There's more homeless people than we have bed to lay down on the ground right here,” said Lt. Reedy.

She just hired two people to staff the shelter and kitchen. They serve a hot meal in the evenings, during check in and then serve a hot breakfast in the morning. Today’s breakfast was hot cakes, complete with butter, syrup, whipped cream and fruit, together with coffee or tea.

Everyone must be out of the shelter and on their way by 7 a.m., Lt. Reedy said, since there’s a school across the street. Before leaving, every person had the option of grabbing a free pair of socks. Lt. Reedy said they really rely on donations this time of year, to pay for the food, socks, mittens, hats and other little extras they provide their overnight guests.

Those who plan to come back to the Salvation Army shelter the next night, can leave their blanket on the mat they used, to save their space. They must clean up their area and take all personal items with them. Lt. Reedy said the shelter will stay open as long as it stays cold outside.

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