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How To Help The Homeless When Winter Weather Hits - LEX18.com | Continuous News and StormTracker Weather

How To Help The Homeless When Winter Weather Hits

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LEXINGTON, Ky. –  Lexington is a compassionate community and wants to help those in need, but sometimes that assistance can be counter-productive. That’s why the Hope Center is recommending ways to provide appropriate aid to the homeless during this winter weather.

“People are well-intentioned, but sometimes they do things that could actually be harmful,” said Carrie Thayer, director of development for the Hope Center. “It’s best to utilize the expertise of organizations that are equipped to handle the needs of the homeless, many of whom are dealing with issues of addiction, mental health or abuse.

“Doing the wrong thing could actually enable the problem or inadvertently cause more harm.”

Thayer pointed to the example of giving money directly to people who are homeless. That money might then be used to buy drugs or alcohol and prevent them from seeking shelter during dangerously cold weather.

Instead, the Hope Center has these tips on how to help:

  • If you see someone you believe to be homeless during dangerously cold temperatures, call the Hope Center Emergency Shelter at 252-7881. The Hope Center has a Street Outreach Program, which will work with people who refuse to take shelter. Or 2-2-1 will give access to additional resources.
  • If the person looks like they need medical attention, call 911 immediately and let them know. Signs of hypothermia are shivering, difficulty speaking, sleepiness and confusion. Hypothermia kills about 700 homeless each year.
  • If you want to give a hand out, give the homeless a small bag filled with a pair of socks, granola bar, lip balm, water, gloves, tissues, toothpaste and toothbrush, all with this card giving information to the homeless person and tell them you can call someone to assist them (Hope Center Street Outreach at 859-252-7881). You can either print the card: http://www.hopectr.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Lex_Panhandling_Postcard_20180202.jpg, or stop by the Hope Center’s Emergency Shelter, which has 1,000 cards printed.
  • Hold a toiletry, socks and underwear or over-the-counter, alcohol-free medicine drive and collect for the Emergency Shelter as these are the items most in need during a cold snap. Emergency shelter numbers have increased from around 200 to more than 250, which means more toiletries are needed as well.  
  • Make sandwiches for the HopeMobile, which is out on the streets Monday through Friday as a resource for those who will not take shelter. Or donate hats, gloves and scarves and blankets to homeless shelters.
  • Text LEXHOPE to 50155 to donate. Those donations go to housing, food, social services and health-care – programs that don’t just meet the immediate needs but also address the underlying causes of homelessness. In addition, the Hope Center has a street outreach coordinator, who works to get resources to those who refuse to enter the shelter.
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