Charlotte residents offer a helping hand as temperatures drop into the 30s

Shelters opening in bitter cold

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - People across the Queen City got a taste of chilly winter weather Tuesday night. Temperatures in Charlotte dropped into the low 30s.

The streets of Charlotte, already quieter because of the coronavirus pandemic, were even more barren because of the cold temperatures Tuesday night.

WBTV spoke to some of the people who were still out for a night on the town.

“It reminds me that the holiday times are here,” said Charlotte resident Yvonne Tottenham.

Jeremy Havlik told WBTV he was visiting Charlotte from Las Vegas. He welcomed the cool weather.

“I think it’s great. It’s a great change for the seasons and it’s nice and crisp out there,” said Havlik.

While the cold temperatures are a welcome change for some, they pose a serious hazard to others. Hundreds of men sought refuge in shelters across the city Tuesday night.

Randall Hitt, the chief engagement officer for Roof Above, said that around 450 men were occupying beds in city shelters as of 9 p.m. Tuesday night. He said the total combined capacity of the men’s shelters is 603.

Roof Above opened the Lucille Giles Center, an emergency shelter for men, on Tuesday. The shelter had been closed since July because of the congregate nature of the building. The center’s operations had been taking place at a local motel where guests with COVID risk factors could still be served. According to Roof Above, both the motel and the Lucille Giles Center will now be operating during the winter. Beds in the Lucille Giles Center are socially distanced and sleeping barriers are being put in place.

Roof Above is also working with Salvation Army Center of Hope to expand the capacity to serve women and families at a non-congregate location too.

Richard Crawford, a Charlotte resident, said he had secured a spot in the shelter along N. Tryon Street Tuesday night.

“It’s very important because you can freeze if you stay out here,” Crawford told WBTV. “My hands about to freeze right now. I’ve been working all day.”

While there is a great need for shelter and assistance in Charlotte, there are those who are routinely stepping in to help. Roosevelt Pitts of New Creations Overcomers Ministries said he drives people from shelters to church. He spoke about the harshness of the cold weather Tuesday.

“It’s hard man. I got gloves and a coat and got the heat on and it’s hard for me getting in and out of the van,” said Pitts.

While Pitts carted people to and from church, Nathan Jones and his friends walked the chilly streets of uptown with the Rice and Beans organization. They passed out food and blankets to people in need.

“When it’s cold, a lot of them don’t have the resources to get to a warm place so we try to bring them blankets,” said Jones.

Both Pitts and Jones encouraged others to help people who may be stuck in difficult situations.

“Take five minutes to make a difference in someone else’s life. You never know what could come out of it,” said Jones.

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