The majority of the continental U.S. is experiencing temperatures even more frigid than usual, and those most vulnerable to the cold are people without homes.
The cold is even affecting states in the South, prompting one church in Alabama to find a creative way to combat homelessness amid dangerously low temperatures.
READ: Cop Was About to Ticket a Homeless Man When He Suddenly Had an Epiphany That Changed Everything
The Grateful Life Community Church in Huntsville has transformed its building into a warming center, providing unconventional resources to the homeless such as haircuts and medicine as well as food, warm clothes, and somewhere safe to sleep.
“We welcome all of God’s children; all races, religions, orientations, and gender identities are welcome to join us,” according to a GoFundMe campaign set up by the church.
It's that time again! The temperature is dropping, and we're opening our doors. Starting today at 2pm the GLCC Emergency…
Posted by Grateful Life Community Church of Huntsville on Saturday, December 30, 2017
Pets are even allowed at the church as well. The church is the only emergency shelter in the area that allows guests to bring their pets with them, according to the GoFundMe page.
Huntsville resident Matthew Harris, who is homeless, said its often difficult to find shelter for him, his wife and their dog during cold winters.
“It’s either learn the streets smart as quick or it’s going to eat you alive,” Harris told WAAY.
Jeremy Casiano, who has been homeless since November, when the temperatures started to stop, said he is grateful for its generosity.
“When I heard out about this again, I said at least they have a heart to open a church for people for seven days,” he said.
One of the church’s volunteers, Ronald Rickard, said the church decided to provide haircuts “because it’s a small luxury we take for granted.”
Grateful Life Warming Center Dec 31, 2017 Update.
Posted by Grateful Life Community Church of Huntsville on Sunday, December 31, 2017
On New Year’s Eve, Rickard posted a video to the church’s Facebook page, saying the temperatures would hover between 12 and 14 degrees that night.
And in true Southern Hospitality tradition, the church’s menu did not disappoint. Among the dishes served on New Year’s Eve were glazed ham with pineapple and raisins, broccoli and cheddar casserole, pinto beans with ham, candied yams and corn bread.
“We’re really lucky,” Rickard said, thanking everyone who has “saved lives” by donating to the cause.
The church has made an impression with the community, who has expressed gratitude and awe over its generous workings.
“What a fantastic church to set up a shelter during these cold nights!!!” Facebook user Jessica Huff wrote on the church’s Facebook page on Monday. “I stopped there this evening and it was full of people and pets. That is the true Christianity I have been searching to see.”
What a fantastic church to set up a shelter during these cold nights!!! I stopped there this evening and it was full of people and pets. That is the true Christianity I have been searching to see.
Posted by Jessica Huff on Monday, January 1, 2018
The warming center can sleep up to 60 people and will remain open until temperatures warm back up to above 40 degrees. The church opens its doors when the weather in Huntsville drops below 32 degrees for 24 hours straight, according to the GoFundMe page.
For those that have asked what we still need for our emergency warming center, we have a need for the…
Posted by Grateful Life Community Church of Huntsville on Monday, January 1, 2018
The church shelter even began taking those seeking shelter from the Salvation Army after the charitable organization’s shelter filled up.
WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL