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Turlock Warming Shelter Shuttered Because Volunteer Is Ill

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TURLOCK (CBS13) — A warming shelter in Turlock has remained shuttered because the volunteer who keeps it open is sick, leaving the Salvation Army scrambling to find a way to get it open.

The shelter is used for senior activities during the day, and at night it’s for the homeless. But it hasn’t opened in weeks, because there aren’t enough volunteers.

“We were hoping we could open when the cold weather started, but then things started falling apart on us,” said Debbie Shrum with the Salvation Army.

The longtime volunteer who usually spends the night with dozens of homeless people is ill, leaving the Salvation Army scrambling to find volunteers to run the safe haven.

“This is the season of compassion, and they need help,” Shrum said.

The We Care shelter across town opened before the recent cold spell, and it’s been a ful house every night.

“It’s really hard at 8:30, 9:00, and I’m having to tell them, ‘Sorry, I don’t have a bed, here’s a blanket,’” said Debbie Gutierrez with We Care. “That’s a little difficult.”

In the past, those turned away headed to the Salvation Army warming center, but with it closed, organizers fear the worst—like what happened to one man last year.

“He froze to death,” Gutierrez said. “Can you imagine freezing to death?”

Advocates say the need for help is clear. When temperatures drop during the day, Turlock Gospel Mission fills up.

“We recently had 100 people during the cold snap,” said Executive Director Tim Guerino.

The hope now is that people will open their hearts to bring the homeless inside.

“They are wrapping themselves in blankets, in plastics, some in tents, just so they can stay warm,” Shrum said.

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