Shelter Occupancy

Newscenter 11 caught up with the head of the Salvation Army office in Meridian as he dredged through the ice and snow Wednesday morning to check on the agency's homeless shelter for men. Since Monday night it's been filled beyond its set limit.

"We have 25 beds for normal capacity, but we've had about 10 extra men a night since the cold weather hit," says Major Walter Strong.

Otis Thomas is one of those men. He says without the shelter, he would have no place to go.

"I'd probably be on the streets. I'm just glad that the Salvation Army is here."

"We can always use blankets," says Major Strong. "We can use sleeping mats; the kind that you can roll up and put away."

Life Church in Meridian has served at least 50 people each day since opening its shelter late Monday.

"We've had a few that have come in to eat who didn't have adequate heating," says Pastor Gary Morris, "and there are a lot that have come from under the bridges, from the street corners, from behind the stores that have come in to stay warm."

Aside from shelter and food, Life Church is providing more for the people who are staying. The church has also rented several hotel rooms, and members are transporting people who are staying at the shelter to those rooms to take hot showers. The church is also providing the individuals with clean clothes which have been donated.

"Jesus said, 'When you've done it to the least of them, you've done it unto me," says Pastor Morris. "So, we feel like Jesus has slept on our floors, in our pallets and has eaten at our table, and we have been honored as a congregation to have these guests with us."

All of the food served at the church has been provided by local businesses, restaurants and other churches. Set to close sometime Thursday morning, at last check the only thing that was needed at the church shelter was kerosene.

Life Church is located on Frontage Road in Meridian, and the Salvation Army's Shelter is on B Street in Meridian. Our attempts throughout much of the day Wednesday to contact officials with South Harbor Shelter on St. Paul Street were unsuccessful.