Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Big Chill

It's cold.

Big surprise, right? You knew that already.

But, in a winter which has been on-again, off-again it is suddenly and bitterly cold. Last week we were worrying about confused plants starting to bloom. Now it is 14 degrees. What the heck? It's rather stunning, almost as though we had forgotten what Winter was like. Maybe Winter just won't come this year, we thought.

I'm sitting in a comfy chair under a soft blanket and our heat is churning away. Nice and toasty. My husband and daughter went into the morning chill reluctantly, but bundled up with winter outerwear: heavy jackets, hats, scarves, gloves.

Winter is here with a vengeance, at least for now. And there are people in Howard County who are more than surprised. They are unprepared. Children without warm clothing, senior citizens without adequate heat, people who have no homes at all. It is incomprehensible to me that we have people living outside in tents in Howard County, but I don't think we have been able to eradicate that yet. How is our plan to end homelessness coming along?

I saw this yesterday on Facebook:

Last year the Community Action Council of Howard County provided energy & weatherization assistance to almost 6,000 HoCo residents - visit the link to find help or to provide help.

That started me thinking about all those people out there who are unprepared, and all the different ways our community tries to help.

Grassroots Crisis Intervention. In addition to emergency family shelter, they also operate a Day Resource Center on Route 1. The Day Center "...provides meals, showers, limited laundry, fellowship and social services to homeless individuals in the Howard County Route 1 corridor." Grassroots also partners with the area faith community on the Cold Weather Shelter which provides emergency shelter in area churches during the Winter months.

The Columbia Youth and Teen Center organizes and hosts a free clothing drive every year. This year's distribution dates are January 16 and 17th.

How else do we, as a community, help our fellow citizens during the coldest time of the year? How can people who want to help get involved? If you needed help, would you know where to go to find it?

In the meantime, if you go out, bundle up. Put a hat on. Zip up that jacket, for heaven's sake!



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