BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The freezing temperatures that have set in across Louisiana are dangerous for those who do not have permanent housing. To make sure those who don’t know where they will be laying their head at night have a warm place to stay, shelters are transitioning into their cold weather setups.
St. Vincent de Paul typically houses 100 people under normal circumstances. Tuesday night, that number will grow to approximately 150. That number will increase even more in February. The shelter’s new day center will open and can be turned into an emergency shelter during cold snaps.
One of those staying there is Mary Jackson. She will be sleeping on a small, twin sized bed in a hallway.
"All they ask is that you go by the rules,” Jackson said. “I'd rather go by the rules than not have a roof over my head and a warm place to stay."
Jackson has been bouncing in and out of homelessness since being diagnosed with spinal arthritis. She has had to stay outside during a cold night before.
“They worry about where they’re sleeping at,” she said. “It’s cold. Where am I going to be warm at? If it rains, am I going to get wet or am I going to be able to stay dry?”
At St. Vincent de Paul, she does not have to worry about that, especially when it’s below freezing.
"We put or plan into effect when the temperature drops 40 or below and our goal is to get as many people off the street that we can safely do so,” said the shelter’s director, Michael Acaldo.
For Jackson, that helping hand means the world.
"There was a time where I didn’t know where I was going to be, but they helped. They helped me to the point where they showed they cared,” she said.
The shelter does need help during these cold months. Acaldo is asking for donations of blankets, towels, socks, underwear, and pillows. If you would like to donate, you can either click here, or you can drop supplies off at the Bishop Ott Day Center, which is located at 1623 Convention St. in Baton Rouge.