11-year-old pitches fundraiser to provide homeless people with weather radios

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Tonight is round two for dangerously cold temperatures for the Tennessee Valley.  Most people have plenty of warning to prepare.
But, what if you had no way to be warned of impending severe weather, such as the bitter cold or even tornadoes?

That's what homeless people face every day.

An 11-year-old has an idea that could be a solution to the problem.

It's hard to imagine seeking refuge from sub-zero-degree weather in thin woods, but that's what several homeless people did Wednesday night.

"We made sure that they had blankets, that they had camping fuel and other necessities," said Clete Wetli, Executive Director of First Stop Day Center.

Wetli begged them to go to a warming center but they declined.

"When you're homeless, a lot of times, you're reluctant to take shelter because everything you own might be in that tent that's out in the woods.

He sees the homeless every day at First Stop.

Their plight caught the attention of Wetli's 11-year-old daughter, Marianna, who has a passion for weather.

She wants homeless people to have a way to be warned of impending dangerous weather.

"They're people just like you and I," said Marianna Dawson.  "They deserve to have care too."

Her answer to the problem is to equip the homeless with weather radios that don't need batteries and can be simply cranked to power.

At just 11 years old, she understands how knowing what the weather is going to do can be the difference between life and death.

"Like last night, a lot of people may have gotten frostbite or frozen to death," said Dawson.

She wants to raise money for the devices.

"I think it's a great idea," said Wetli.

He believes the radios would provide a new way for the homeless to help themselves, which is an important step in them eventually coming in out of the cold for good.

Wetli has already set up an account at First Stop to collect money for the weather radios.

He's hoping to raise enough for about 100 radios.

As it turned out, 54 people stayed at Grateful Life Church on Oakwood Avenue in Huntsville, which opened up as a warming center for the homeless.

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