Homeless shelters opening their doors to all amid cold winter weather

ONSLOW COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) -The weather is getting a bit nippy in Eastern Carolina as some very cold air is making its presence felt, causing homeless shelters to open their doors for everyone.

“I appreciate these people for helping us, the Lord blesses us all so I just like being here,” said William Newton, emergency shelter white flag resident.

“I’ve got to say it means the world to me,” said Will Franklin, who is also at the shelter. “That’s pretty much all I can say. It means the world to have a roof over my head.”

Temperatures have been lower than usual all week especially overnight into the early morning hours, which has led to a return of the white flag program at the Onslow County Community Outreach Emergency Shelter.

“It means a lot,” said Jamie Brown, Emergency Shelter and Housing Services Director. “We’ve had a lot of people show how appreciative they’re to get that bed and warm meal.”

Under the white flag program, any resident in need of a warm place to stay can check in between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Everyone is provided a hot meal, shower, and a cot to sleep on. The program is in place through early next week due to the anticipated cold weather, which some are happy about.

“I’m going to be sleeping on a nice cot and eating all this good food,” Newton said. “I like that.”

Shelters like the Community Crossroads Center in Greenville, say they’ll open Friday afternoon and remain open until next Monday morning due to the low temperatures.

The Onslow County Community Outreach Emergency Shelter says it would like to explore a similar option, but doesn’t know if it’ll be possible due to lack of weekend staffing.

“Right now, we don’t have employees here,” Brown said. “It’s based on volunteers and if we don’t have them, then we can’t so we’re definitely looking for volunteers to help with that.”

“If I ever get a place of my own, I wouldn’t hesitate to bring someone in out of the cold and giving them a place to lay their head,” Franklin said.

The Community Crossroads Center says there will be food and shelter for its residents, who can stay all weekend.