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Georgetown church to provide shelter with Out of the Cold program

"There are people who are sleeping on park benches and under bushes, and they're in need. And the cry is there. We've got to do something."
Knox Presbyterian Church in Georgetown.

Knox Presbyterian Church is getting ready to launch an initiative that will help vulnerable residents in the community stay warm this winter.

The church in downtown Georgetown is soon starting an Out of the Cold program to shelter the homeless. As the name suggests, volunteers will help those in need get some warmth during the winter months with overnight shelter in the church. Food and drinks will also be provided.

“We are in a position to help those who right now cannot help themselves," said Rev. Steve Boose. "There are people who are sleeping on park benches and under bushes, and they're in need. And the cry is there. We've got to do something."

Boose estimates the number of homeless individuals in Halton Hills “is potentially a couple of hundred. We know a lot of them couch surf or make their own accommodations. There are a lot in tents We know that we could be full on given nights when we are open.”

The church hopes to get the program going on Dec. 5 with a capacity to help about six people at a time. They may allow for additional people, depending on circumstance and on a case-by-case basis. Certain rules like no smoking or drinking on the premises will be enforced. Otherwise, they may ask for outside help.

Boose and his team are working out a flexible schedule that would see trained volunteers “sacrifice a couple of hours of sleep, maybe once every three or four weeks.”

“You can come and you can do two hours in the evening if that's what you have to offer. Or if you're an early riser, you can do two hours in the morning," he noted.

The church is still welcoming volunteers. Duties are broken into three categories. The evening team (7 to 9 p.m.) will make a warm supper and get things ready for the guests; the overnight team (9 p.m. to 6 a.m.) will watch over everyone while they sleep; and the morning team (6 to 8 a.m.) will prepare breakfast and finish the cleanup from overnight.

Those interested in volunteering can contact the church at [email protected]

The point of contact for those in need will be the library's Georgetown branch next door to the church. Knox will make the library aware during the day when the Out of the Cold program is open and ready to accept guests. From there, the library will be able to direct individuals accordingly.