Temperamental climate change, and harsh winters with hot summers is weather Memphians are all too familiar with. The cold and wet winters call for jackets and boots to be pulled out of closets, but for those less fortunate, the worry is not what winter coat to wear, but if they will find somewhere warm to sleep at night.
Homeless shelters and soup kitchens around the metro area prepare for colder months by stocking up on food, shifting diets from pastries to fuller meals such as oatmeal, and pulling out winter clothes from closets to set up clothing drives. St. Mary’s Soup Kitchen has been serving food to the homeless for the past 146 years, feeding anywhere from 200-400 people a day. Ron Bezon, former manager of the soup kitchen and current employee has been volunteering at the kitchen for almost thirty years.
“Every morning, six days a week, we serve coffee, and then later two sandwiches and soup that has meat and vegetables in it to make sure they get all their nutrients,” Bezon said. “It’s a place in the winter that just allows people to come get warm for a few hours. One of the homeless men who used to come here every morning told me it was like coming to paradise, and that’s what we hope it feels like for everyone.”
Calvary Rescue Mission is another downtown shelter who started out their holiday season by going out into their community and giving away 400 Thanksgiving dinners, and will host a Christmas party Toy Drive December 10 as well as other events throughout the holiday season.
“We have been giving out dinners and hosting the clothing drive for the past few years and they seem to be doing really well for us,” pastor of Calvary Rescue Mission, Brother Bob Freudiger said. “When it gets around this time of year we try to have as many events as we can to help out others in our neighborhood.”
St. Mary’s and Calvary Rescue Mission are just two of the many outlets in the downtown area offering refuge for the colder months. Memphis Union Mission, Safe Harbor Memphis, First Presbyterian, and the Cooks Convention all offer food, clothing, or shelter for those who are homeless during the holidays.
Mary Katerine Langley also contributed to this story and video.