Fort Worth

Homeless Shelters Prepare for Coldest Night of Season

Cities prepare to open extra shelters if necessary

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Organizations that help people experiencing homelessness are prepared to open extra shelters on Thanksgiving night when a cold front is expected to bring frigid temperatures to North Texas. Meanwhile, volunteers passed out donated meals of turkey and all the fixings.

On Fort Worth’s Lancaster Avenue, where many people experiencing homelessness gather, the help was nonstop.

Families and church groups pulled up with meal after meal to give away.

"We came out here to help people that don't have warm food today,” said dental assistant Laura Berridge of Arlington who packed boxes of hot food in the back of her pickup. “It makes me feel good.”

"It's all about bringing warm food to good people and loving on them,” she said.

For people like Red Fox, who lives in a tent, the donations mean a lot.

“I'm thankful,” he said.

Experts say all the street donations are nice but prefer people would work directly with the shelters, so it doesn't create so much trash on the street and encourage people to sleep in tents -- outside of the system set up to help them.

Meanwhile, on the street, the word was spreading about the approaching cold front.

Advocates for those who are experiencing homelessness said they are ready to open extra shelters if needed.

"Early on we identify which shelters can take how many people and what that looks like and having another partner on standby who can open an additional facility or find places for people to go,” said Lauren King, executive director of the nonprofit Tarrant County Homeless Coalition.

The shelters were busy too.

At True Worth Place, run by the Presbyterian Night Shelter, volunteers from Pathway Church have been making Thanksgiving meals for 12 years.

"This is just a wonderful time for us to come, share a meal together, and have a really nice Thanksgiving," said Kathy Colomo of the Burleson church.

The homeless coalition estimates there are 1,200 people experiencing homelessness in Tarrant County. That’s down substantially from 2,100 before the pandemic.

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