Tacoma Rescue Mission seeking support through cold weather months
As the temperatures drop, the number of local individuals and families looking for a warm place to sleep skyrockets.
Tacoma Rescue Mission staff always expects an influx of people needing shelter as winter comes on, but this year is even higher than ever.
“As it gets colder the numbers go up. But we don’t want to turn anyone away,” said Juliet Wallin, donor and community relations director for the Mission.
At the Rescue Mission’s emergency shelter downtown, which serves primarily single men, capacity has more than doubled in the last month.
Close to 200 men are sleeping in the 70-bed facility, with cots and mats filling any spare room in the building.
Last year, the shelter topped out at about 150 men on cold nights, Wallin said.
“Last night we had 190 men staying with us… and that number is only going to go up.”
At the St. Adams Family Campus, 50 children and 40 adults are currently staying in the shelter on either a transitional or an emergency basis.
“As the weather gets really cold, families can just stay with us for the night if they need it. A family of eight came in and slept on cots for the night. Otherwise they’d be sleeping in their car,” Wallin said. “Having the mats and cots out everywhere is not an ideal situation, but we make it work. It is challenging but we prepare for it every year and do the best that we can.”
Fortunately for charitable organizations like the Rescue Mission, donations and volunteer hours increase around the holidays, a time when more people are likely to be cold and hungry.
But a tight economy has made donations drop across the board, and the Rescue Mission is still seeking help to clothe, feed and shelter Pierce County’s neediest people.
“Last month and these next three months sustain us through the whole year,” Wallin said.
“We’re making our budget, but we always want to go over our goal. That’s always our hope. If it doesn’t happen, it puts us in a tight situation during the rest of the year when the donations go down even further.”
On Dec. 20, the Rescue Mission’s family campus will host a special holiday meal for all the children of families in the shelter, giving them a special visit from Santa Claus, as well as a gift donated by local community supporters.
Ways you can continue the help during the winter months is by volunteering at the Rescue Mission, donating money, food, clothing or household goods such as linens and towels.
Winter clothing, such as hats, coats, scarves, gloves and shoes, are in high demand – especially for women, teenagers and infants.
Items at the donation center (425 South Tacoma Way) are available to the community, not just those who already use the shelter.
Sponsorship of a meal, which costs about $500 and serves over $1,000 people, is also a huge help for the mission.
Go to www.rescue-mission.org/donate for more information on how you can help.
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