HUNTSVILLE, Ala - Snow and freezing temperatures are moving into our area over night. Emergency shelter is always available at the Downtown Rescue Mission and the Salvation Army, but the weather is bad enough that it is prompting a church to open it's doors to people who need a warm place to stay.
Sanctuary - the word is used to describe a place where people worship. It also describes a place people can go if they need safety.
For Grateful Life Community Church - their sanctuary is both. Volunteers have laid out 70 cots for people in need of shelter during the upcoming winter storm.
"We will be open as long as the temperatures remain below freezing for 24 hours," church board chairman Larry Jess said.
The church also is equipped with medicine and toiletries - all offered free of charge. In addition to all of that, they also have pet food, and that's because people can bring their animals here along with them.
"People who live in camp sites can't get into shelters with their dogs and cats so they won't go," Jess continued. "And they'd rather freeze outside than leave their pets. So, we open our doors and let dogs, cats, snakes birds, whatever come in."
The crew will also visit those camp sites to bring people to their church.
"My absolute favorite part is getting in the bus with the pastor, hiking in the woods, getting people out of camp sites, and offering them a warm place to stay," he added.
Jess says that's an important part of what they do. He says some might consider this a warming center. He calls it an emergency shelter.
"Our homeless population includes people who have no place to go," he stated. "To get out of the frigid cold weather and without a building like this opening up people could die."
He hopes no one who needs help is left out in the cold.
The church provides free meals, over the counter medicine, toiletries, clothing and bikes to homeless people living in Huntsville. To learn more about this ministry visit the church website.