Lowcountry warming shelters open for first time this season, break down changes

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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Warming shelters across the Lowcountry are opening their doors for the first time this season including at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in North Charleston Officials with the shelter say with COVID-19 measures in place, they’ll be able to safely welcome dozens of people over the next few months.

Aldersgate’s warming shelter operated on a limited basis last year with COVID-19 but is returning to a full schedule this year running from now until mid-March. It’s one of just a few locations around our area equipped to provide a place for people to spend the night and get a hot meal.

“Every year we welcome a slew of folks,” says Pastor Eric Grayson.

There’s a high demand for warming shelters across the Lowcountry again this year with few options available for those in need. Pastor Grayson says Aldersgate is doing their best to meet the need.

“In the whole Charleston region, there are very few emergency shelters available and we find that when temperatures drop, we have a lot of our friends who are homeless but we also have a number of folks who are just underhoused and don’t have adequate heat,” says Pastor Grayson.

Pastor Grayson says the shelter can accommodate 75 people each night it’s open.

“We have outdoor heaters, outdoor fencing, and we bring people in,” says Pastor Grayson who has been at the church for eight years.

Despite the warming shelter returning to a full schedule this winter, some COVID-19 measures from last year will remain in place including health screenings and mask wearing.

“Where we’re able to welcome them and do health screenings – welcome them and do bag checks and then guest registration,” says Pastor Grayson.

The warming shelter plans to open now through March 15th on nights the temperature dips below 35 degrees creating dangerous conditions for those without a warm place to sleep.

“We’re still able to open with our basic offerings – showers, clothes closet, hot dinner, optional devotional, to-go meals the next day,” says Pastor Grayson.

With more and more utilizing the shelter, Grayson says Aldersgate is looking to recruit more volunteers to help provide the service to those in need.

“You can come in having never volunteered to work with us before, we will train you to work the spot,” says Pastor Grayson. “We’ll find a role that fits for you.”

A warm bed, clothes and a hot meal for those in need of a place to stay or maybe just down on hard times, all in the spirit of giving a hand up.

“And if we’re able to help someone who is working hard to be able to save up a little money to get to that next check, that goes a long way too,” says Pastor Grayson.

Pastor Grayson anticipates Aldersgate warming shelter will open again on Thursday night. The shelter’s hours when open are 7pm to 7am with registration from 7pm to 9pm. Masks are required inside the facility.

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