BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Two Berkeley County churches, one in Goose Creek, the other in Moncks Corner, are serving as warming centers to provide residents in need with a warm place to stay this holiday season.

Goose Creek United Methodist Church and Berkeley Baptist Church are opening their doors for shelter for the first time since the pandemic.

“Those two centers are open,” Berkeley County’s emergency management director Will Rochester said. “We’ve got food there, we’ve got volunteers, we’ve got other resources they may need stay out of the cold during this unusual event for us.”

Warming centers opened due to the below-freezing temperatures experienced across the Lowcountry since Thursday, and after their program was put on hold for two years, the Berkeley County government is eager to once again help those in need.

“It makes us very optimistic that we can support this program,” Rochester said, “whether it’s with our Community Emergency Response Team volunteers, whether it’s just with logistics and whether that’s cots, blankets, any kind of support that’s needed.”

Goose Creek United Methodist Church has served as a warming center since 2016.

“We can hold probably up to 15 to 20 people at the most,” Goose Creek United Methodist Church’s disaster coordinator Craig Sullivan said.

Sullivan says many of the people they serve are either experiencing homelessness, or live in a home with inadequate heat.

“We have a warm meal at night and breakfast in the morning,” Sullivan said. “I would hope that if I was in this position, someone would be out there for me. And that’s why I do it.”

Leaders of Berkeley Baptist Church say they have enough resources to accommodate more than 50 guests.

“It’s really in our heart to provide shelter,” Henry Simmons, pastor of Berkeley Baptist Church, said. “We’ve done it in the past and we have a lot of buildings, and why not use them to help people?”

They say they always try to help those in need whenever possible, but now, it’s even more special since it’s the season of giving.

“We’re happy to do it,” Simmons said. “We’re happy to provide a building, some warmth, some shelter and it would do right by us to see people enjoy that warmth.”

For more information about Berkeley County’s warming centers, please call (843) 719-4800.