CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Local homeless are struggling to survive in the frigid temperatures sweeping the Carolinas.
Homeless shelters say they're at capacity, Medic reports they've received frostbite calls, and Mecklenburg County refuses to open warming centers until temperatures dip below 10 degrees.
“That is ridiculous, so if it's 11 degrees, you know that's good?” County commissioner Pat Cotham pressed.
She tried to convince the board Wednesday to open warming centers to no avail.
After the commissioners' meeting, Cotham spent the night handing out hand and feet warmers to the homeless in uptown.
“People need some relief,” she said.
Single mother Joesatter Smith and her five children — ages 19, 18, 17, 15, and 12 — have been sleeping in tents in uptown.
“We're just getting by with what we have,” she said, explaining she works several jobs to keep them all alive. “We're just at the mercy of the elements.”
The family lost everything they owned in Hurricane Matthew. With no insurance or savings, they've never been able to recover and still live — outside — paycheck to paycheck.
Her son Eli, 19, works at 204 North Kitchen and Cocktails as a food runner.
“Then it was back to my tent, get under my blankets in what I have on, sleep in my shoes, do whatever I can to stay warm,” Eli said. “It stopped me from doing what I have to do.”
Eli showed up to work Monday with frostbite on his hands, that's how his boss found out he was homeless.
“You would've never thought,” boss Gwen Gattas said. “He never said anything. He comes to work on time, he's dedicated, he's motivated, he's a very kind soul. We knew we had to help.”
Gwen set up a GoFundMe for the family, which raised $6,000 in a day.
“Words can't describe how surprised I am,” Eli said. “Everyone's human we all go through something. It might not be the same thing but you can always tell a story.”
If you'd like to donate to the GoFundMe, you can do so by clicking here.
You can learn more about local homeless shelters here. Many shelters say they are in desperate need of blankets and warm clothing this winter.
To donate winter weather gear for families in need, you can learn more information about Crisis Assistance Ministry by clicking here.