Freezing temperatures are leading Cobb churches and shelters to open their doors or offer additional beds to the homeless this week.
"The main thing that we want people to know is that we don't want anyone to try to survive these temperatures," said Kaye Cagle, communications director of MUST Ministries, a homeless shelter with locations around Cobb. "We want everyone to come to a safe, warm place."
Mt. Bethel UMC in east Cobb announced Tuesday it would be open to those in need overnight.
"The kind of church that Mt. Bethel is, they have a great group of people that are outwardly focused," MUST CEO Ike Reighard said. "They will call our people at the shelter to find out if all of a sudden we have a greater number of people than we experience normally" and bus them to Mt. Bethel's gymnasium.
Whenever the weather drops below 35 degrees, MUST repurposes its dining hall and turns it into a cold weather shelter. Reighard said it could fit an additional 26 people on top of the 72 it regularly houses in its permanent shelter.
The cold weather shelter has been open since Saturday night. It opens at 8 p.m. — after dinner — each night.
"We are continually open there, so it's not like someone has to get there by a certain time," Reighard said. "Because sometimes people think they are going to try and tough it out, and then they realize how bitterly cold it is."
Women and children are housed in the shelter, while men are housed at the Extension, a neighboring addiction center with which MUST often partners, Cagle said.
During the day, MUST's outreach center will serve as a "warming shelter" so that people aren't forced back out into the street in freezing weather.
People in need are encouraged to check into MUST at 55 Elizabeth Church Road, building #200 after 8 p.m.
South Cobb Commissioner Lisa Cupid shared on her Facebook page resources that one can call if they need assistance:
MUST Ministries: (770) 427 9862
The Extension: (770) 590-9075
Sweetwater Mission -- Brian Hamilton: (770) 876-7675
The Center for Family Resources: (770) 428-2601
Gateway 24/7: (404) 215-6600