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Shelters need winter gear donations, volunteer help as temperatures remain frigid

At each shelter, winter gear in all sizes is a necessity.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — With single digit temperatures and snow to start the new year, shelters across the area are full and need some help.

Degage Ministries and Mel Trotter Ministries in Grand Rapids both hit capacity on Wednesday night as temperatures dropped below freezing. That includes Mel Trotter's overflow location.

"That's up to 75 beds, so men, women and couples," says Beth Fisher, chief advancement officer for Mel Trotter Ministries.

At each location, no one is turned away even when the locations do reach capacity.

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"We will put mats on the floor, we'll do what we need to do," says Fisher. "But we will not let people stay out in this cold who want to come in."

And with that abundance of help provided to community, the shelters need help from the community as well.

"We need volunteers and we need donations, especially at this time of year," says Thelma Ensink, Degage's executive director. "It's critical."

Both locations have a need for physical help. And you can get involved in nearly any area you are able to.

"Come in and help in the dining room, come in and help in our life enrichment center for showers," says Ensink.

If you can't help in person, donations are always needed too.

"We had a great year end and we're very pleased and grateful to our community for stepping up, but those needs don't stop with this weather," says Fisher.

At each shelter, winter gear in all sizes is a necessity. Degage says they have enough coats, but there's still plenty else to give.

"Gloves, hand warmers, foot warmers," lists Ensink. "Those are really critical for people when they're walking outside. Boots, hats."

On the lakeshore, Holland Rescue Mission says help is needed as well. While they are doing well on winter clothes, contributions to the food pantry are welcome as well as monetary donations.

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