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Charlottesville Shelter Asking for Donations to Help Homeless Stay Warm

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Person warms by a fireplace at the Haven in Charlottesville Person warms by a fireplace at the Haven in Charlottesville
The Haven in Charlottesville The Haven in Charlottesville
A man panhandling on the Downtown Mall A man panhandling on the Downtown Mall
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

Charlottesville's homeless are trying to find ways to keep warm as temperatures hover around the freezing mark.   

Some of the men and women seeking shelter at the Haven on Wednesday, December 27, said emotions run high when it is cold outside, and the shelter is packed.

"I'm freezing, I'm cold, I'm mad, I'm going to start crying," said Christy Handy, guest at the Haven.

"It really is emotionally a little bit challenging to recognize the differences in our society right now, and so many people who have so little and so many people who have so much," said Haven Coordinator Diana Boeke.

Around 60 to 80 people were at the Haven in downtown Charlottesville Wednesday. The shelter offered a place for them to get some breakfast, wash their clothes, and a way to escape the winter temperatures.

"Either you're outside, or you're in the library, or you're riding around on the bus. I mean, just trying to find somewhere to hang out to stay warm," Handy said.

The Haven opens from 7:30 a.m. until noon most of the year. But when temperatures drop below 32-degrees, it calls in volunteers to keep the building open as the city's designated cold shelter.

“We call everybody we know to come and staff so we can stay open a little longer because the library is the only other place that they can go to stay warm," said Boeke.

Christy Handy considers herself fortunate to receive donated winter clothing at the Haven, as well as a place to go at night. "It's a safe, secure place to stay. A warm place to stay," she said.

"We just feel very fortunate to be in a community where so many people have extra and have enough. We have lots of gloves and hats and scarves and jackets," Boeke said.

Handy hopes more people in the community will offer to help, especially since warm weather in nowhere in sight: "Talk about it, get more involved. You know, just donate and do whatever that you can, I mean, that you feel that you can to help because it’s not easy on us."

The shelter is short of reaching its fundraising goal, and volunteers say every penny helps. But, no matter how many donations it receives, Boeke believes the shelter is only a Band-Aid for a greater issue: "We're not solving the problem of getting people housed. We need more low income housing," she said.

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