"Sometimes when it gets really cold out we go into the clothes hampers where they donate clothes and that's where we keep warm at," says Russell Spatola, a homeless man in Vineland.
On December 9th, Bridgeton Police found 50 year-old Joseph Handshaw dangling from a clothing donation box outside of the Salvation Army Church. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
"I cannot as Mayor of the city of Bridgeton allow another soul to die because of the weather," says Albert Kelly, Mayor of Bridgeton.
Now churches in Cumberland County are doing everything they can to keep the homeless warm when there's freezing temperatures.
"In these cold temperatures, it's life–threatening to be outside. So we're providing space for people to rest," says Ellen Rutherford, a Pastor at Trinity Episcopal Church in Vineland.
This is the first night the Trinity Episcopal Church in Vineland has opened its doors for those in need of food and shelter.
"We hope that they feel safe and warm, well–fed and we'll also have a movie. They'll be able to get some sleep and look at tomorrow a little more optimistically," says Rutherford.
The Bethany Grace Community Church in Bridgeton has been warming up those in need since December 10th, right after Handshaw died. Even the Bridgeton Mayor Albert Kelly volunteer's his time.
"I've been here overnight for the last four to five nights, manning my shift. By having a warming center at least they have a place to sleep and to eat and to be warm during temperatures like today," says Kelly.
"We try and help these people with different aspects of their life and just make sure they're alright. They're like family to us," says Willie Tukes, a volunteer at the Bethany Grace Community Church.
A heart–warming welcome that is very appreciated.
"It's a beautiful thing for the churches to help us. It's a beautiful thing," says Spatola.
"There's nothing like really helping somebody that's in need," says Tukes.
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