On Thursday, February 19, a local media outlet ran a story highlighting the effects of winter weather and The Salvation Army’s participation in White Flag. County Commissioner, Jessica Holmes, saw the story and felt compelled to act. She immediately asked how she could help. After speaking with The Salvation Army’s Shelter Director, Commissioner Holmes scheduled to provide a meal to all of the 84 women and children staying in the shelter. Commission Holmes commented, “I saw the story interviewing the family living at The Salvation Army shelter, and it resonated with me because I was that child. I remember waiting in the back seat of a car in the winter hoping that a shelter would let my mother and her five children in for the night, and they did.”
The Commissioner brought 25 pizzas with various toppings to serve dinner to the women and children in the shelter on Saturday, February 21 at 6pm. Pizza is always a big hit, but the families were even more grateful to have so many choices, including vegetarian options. As several families, for either health or religious reasons, are vegetarian, this was a treat. While it may sound trivial, the opportunity to have a choice, to have control, is a privilege. Living in the shelter, the families must abide by rules and follow specific operating schedules. The simple gesture of "options" is a gift. Another group of friends volunteered to provide cupcakes for dessert!
To aid those battling the winter weather, Wake County shelters institute the White Flag program, where on any night that the temperature reaches 32 degrees or below shelters open their doors beyond normal capacity. The Salvation Army’s Center of Hope Women & Children’s Shelter also participates in White Flag. However, The Salvation Army has recently changed its policy to include any night that reaches a temperature of 40 degrees or below. On these nights, the shelter goes beyond its normal capacity to accept all women with children who come seeking a warm safe place out of the cold. “Many of these families come to our door with very little. Some do not have anything to sleep in...some don’t even have shoes. We do our best to provide them with whatever we can to keep them warm and safe,” says Shelter Director, Katie Gonzalez. The Salvation Army utilizes cots and mats to meet the need. During their stay, families have access to showers, laundry facilities, and hot meals.
Due to the weather and White Flag nights, The Salvation Army has a much higher need for warm linens and cold weather gear. Donations of blankets, comforters, pillows, pajamas, slippers, hats, gloves and scarves are very much needed to meet the need to help keep the families warm. More families also mean more mouths to feed. You can help these families by dropping off any of these items at 1863 Capital Blvd or signing up to provide a hot meal for the shelter. Email the Volunteer Coordinator to sign up to provide a shelter meal!