Bethesda Mission serves as safe haven from cold weather

HARRISBURG, Pa. - With freezing cold temperatures and even some snow settling into our area the last few days, the doors to the men's shelter at Bethesda Mission are open 24/7.

"Anybody who wants to come in," said Men's shelter director Bill Christian. "We will take them in."

Christian says bringing people into the shelter when temperatures dip this low is sometimes a life or death situation.

"They have no other place to go," said Christian. "And with the nights we've had recently, they could die out in those conditions."

Friday night, a group of volunteers will head out onto the streets in a mobile van, which they've been doing for more than 20 years. They'll be handing out sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, sandwiches and hot coffee while also encouraging people to come back to the shelter for the night.

"That van has a good reputation with the homeless on the street," said Christian. "So when it pulls up they do come out and we're able to administer to them."

With the cold weather this week, Bethesda Mission has averaged an extra 20 people per night, which is huge because the most difficult part of helping someone off the street is getting them to agree to come to the shelter.

"Once we get them in here we can take care of them," said Christian. "And that's what we are all about."

One crucial item the shelter is in need of is sleeping bags. A full needs list can be found here.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.