Columbia's Winter Homeless Shelter is Changing Lives

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - For most of us getting through winter's freezing temperatures is as easy as turning on the heater in our homes, but some people in the midlands have to tough it out on the streets.

Fortunately, Columbia's emergency winter homeless shelter is now open. It holds 240 people and Cooperative Ministry says it expects it will be at capacity every night.

David Salters has been homeless for 5 years. He describes what sleeping on the streets is like during the winter, "Cold, extremely cold, miserable."

Salters works at the emergency homeless shelter from time to time for a little extra cash, but it's also where he lays his head at night during the winter months.

"This shelter is a God-Send. You have a place to come in, you have a hot shower to take. Where before you may be going weeks without taking a shower," says Salters.

"Ms. Evelyn" greets David and her other 240 guests from behind this counter every morning. She says it's important for people to remember that just because someone is homeless, doesn't mean they're not human.

" What more enjoyment can you give to someone that's down that you can make a difference in their life---if it's no more to be here than greeting them while giving them their coffee and snacks they have for the day and hopefully they have a good day and I hope to see them tomorrow," says Ms. Evelyn.

From behind her counter, Evelyn may not look like a power house, but every morning she's a source of light and inspiration for the hundreds of people like David.

"I understand that I control my own destiny, so if I want to do something I have to go out and do it," says David.

The winter shelter is a partnership with Cooperative Ministry, the city of Columbia and the university of South Carolina and is always in need of extra supplies.  Here are some things they are looking for: monetary donations, mattresses, board games, books, underwear, socks and towels.

If you want to help the homeless shelter call this number 799-3853 ext. 117