Dozens of new cots and 100 white wool army blankets await area homeless people at the Lawrence Salvation Army's homeless shelter, which will house the homeless seven days a week beginning Oct. 15.
The army blankets recently arrived courtesy of the Department of Defense through an inquiry from the Lawrence-Douglas County Coalition for the Homeless.
"I have this book of government programs to help the homeless and I came across this one this summer," said Steven Fleeker, coalition coordinator.
Fleeker submitted an application for surplus medical blankets and received word that 600 would be sent. More than 400 have arrived so far, and 100 blankets were sent to the Salvation Army shelter. The other 300 blankets have been split among other Douglas County social service agencies.
Shelter users this winter also will sleep on new cots, recently purchased with state grant funds, said Jim McDonald, shelter supervisor.
THE SHELTER is located in the gymnasium of the Lawrence Salvation Army headquarters at 946 N.H. Families and women are given private quarters in the Salvation Army's basement.
As during previous winters, homeless people can look forward to a "cot and a hot" meal at the shelter, McDonald said.
The Salvation Army will provide dinner, coffee, and a few hours of entertainment in front of a 19-inch color television every evening. Local fast food restaurants, such as Hardee's, often donate extra goodies.
The shelter will open at 9 p.m., and users must leave by 8 a.m. the next morning. Seven-day-a-week service is expected to end in mid-May, McDonald said.
The shelter averaged about 34 users when open full-time last winter, McDonald said. The shelter currently is open Friday and Saturday nights and averages about eight clients a night.
McDONALD expects business for the full-week shelter to start off slowly and pick up when temperatures drop.
"The colder it gets, the more people we see," he said.
He couldn't predict whether the shelter would see an increase in users this year.
"I think they've seen a small drop in some of the food programs this summer," McDonald said. "But some people can make it during the summer when they don't have to pay any heating bills. When the winter comes, they end up going broke over gas bills and they come here."