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Salvation Army to open warming center for the weekend

The Brainerd Lakes Salvation Army will help the homeless stay warm with a temporary place to seek shelter from the dangerously cold and below-zero temperatures expected this weekend. The nonprofit’s worship and service center at 208 S. Fifth St. in Brainerd will become a warming center for anyone in need from 5 p.m. Friday through 7 a.m. Monday (New Year’s Day). Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

The Brainerd Lakes Salvation Army will help the homeless stay warm with a temporary place to seek shelter from the dangerously cold and below-zero temperatures expected this weekend.

The nonprofit's worship and service center at 208 S. Fifth St. in Brainerd will become a warming center for anyone in need from 5 p.m. Friday through 7 a.m. Monday (New Year's Day).

"What they do have is chairs, and they do bring in some cots for people that need to get some rest, and we will have something for them to eat," Food Shelf Coordinator Linda Loftis said of the nonprofit's emergency disaster team, which will be supervising the warming center.

Another round of arctic air will bring dangerously cold wind chills to the area—as low as 20 to 40 below zero Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights—according to the National Weather Service, and frostbite could occur on exposed skin in as little as 10 minutes.

"If somebody comes off the street and does have a problem from the cold, at least somebody will be there to give the emergency medical team a call," Loftis said.

The lobby door will be locked, so people should use the second door down at the worship and service center, where volunteers will be available to assist those seeking to warm up from the freezing cold.

The Salvation Army's emergency disaster team will provide hot food such as sloppy Joes or chicken noodle soup, for example, to those at the warming center.

"The room is pretty big, but they will make other arrangements if we need to have more room. I know one year, they had to put some people out in our lobby because they were pretty full," Loftis said of the third annual event.

The faith-based nonprofit is the area's primary agency serving the homeless. Shelters do not exist in Brainerd or Crow Wing County, and most surrounding counties, according to officials.

"Our homeless population—not very many realize that we have so many homeless in the area, but there's a lot of homeless out there—we want to make sure that they stay warm and nothing happens to them because it's supposed to be very, very cold this weekend," Loftis said.

The Brainerd Lakes Salvation Army has also provided one-night hotel vouchers to the homeless and bus passes in order to make it to the 69-bed shelter of The Salvation Army of St. Cloud.

The nonprofit has provided hotel stays and bus vouchers to more than 100 households or 145 individuals; people and families are allowed to use a hotel voucher or bus pass one time per year, according to officials.

"If they end up out in the street for some reason, we want them to know that they can come here and warm up or spend the night—whatever they need to do," Loftis said of the warming center.

The Brainerd Lakes Salvation Army's program and services also include food shelf; rent, mortgage and utility assistance; household goods and clothing; men's and women's ministries; youth ministry; and family fellowship night.

For more information about The Brainerd Lakes Salvation Army at 208 S. Fifth St., call 218-829-1120 or visit www.salvationarmynorth.org/community/brainerd.

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