Salvation Army working on Christmas Eve to shelter Lee County homeless

Reporter: Nicole Lauren Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:
A homeless woman and her belongings. Credit: WINK News

The Salvation Army’s stated mission is to help families in need, and this Christmas will see it focusing on those that may not have homes.

For the first time ever, the Salvation Army’s Night Watch team will be going out on the night of Christmas Eve, because of the spike in homelessness that’s been seen across Lee County.

The SA says its shelters really began to fill up between the end of summer and the beginning of fall, and that they’ve stayed mostly full since then. Due to the pandemic, the number of people coming into the shelters has grown dramatically in 2020.

“We’re taking a meal and we’re taking some cold-weather gear, hygiene kits… with the hopes of developing a relationship to bring them in,” said Major Carlyle Gargis, area commander of the Salvation Army of Lee, Hendry and Glade counties, of the Night Watch’s efforts. “We will load them in the van immediately and take them into our triage emergency shelter. They can get a shower, they can get clothes, food.”

The team is comprised solely of volunteers. Its mission is to develop relationships with people living on the streets so that when they are ready, the SA can bring them in.

“We take our time to invest in people and get to know them and their stories, and for them to continue to know us in hopes to develop trust,” Gargis said. “Then, hopefully, we’ll be able to bring them in.”

Gargis also says they will be giving out their usual hot meals to the public all week.

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