KC shelters gather gear, space for homeless as winter moves in

Published: Dec. 21, 2022 at 6:22 AM CST
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - The unsheltered in our community are getting help staying warm this winter from several shelters, including Shelter KC and City Union Mission.

Shelter KC on Cherry Street is prepping for its second annual “Christmas at the Crossroads” event that will give those in need clothes, boots, gifts, and time to get out of the cold on Friday.

They believe this event gives those in need, and those looking to volunteer and staff, a chance to be together during a time many feel alone and need the help.

The event is in two separate locations on Cherry St. and Truman Event Center.

They’ll have a holiday dinner, crafts area, a coffee truck, gospel singing and praises, and gift bags to at least 600 people.

This year they are partnering with Operation Care International that will be distributing shoes and boots -- along with hats, gloves, and coats.

Shelter KC Executive Director Eric Burger said, “There’s a Christmas party sense. We’ll have Christmas carols, there’s a normalcy that maybe you don’t have when you’re on the street, but then you’re not going to feel like you don’t matter because people have given up their time, people have made gifts, and that’s what we think is really important. Especially for those folks who are in crisis.”

Burger said they have an outreach staffer out on the streets asking people to come in for this event this week, but also, to ask those to stay longer if they need the help.

They will have their overflow section open as well to help as many people as possible they can hold.

The City Union Mission staff is preparing for an influx of individuals seeking help by utilizing space in their overflow section at their family center just under two miles down the road from Shelter KC.

They now have several murphy style beds inside that are stored in lockers built by utilizing a partnership with Shield Lockers of Kansas City.

City Union Mission CEO Terry Megli said it’s more than a just a bed on the floor. That it gives back dignity to those struggling to find a warm place to stay. They’ve increased their capacity to 95 people and expects more single moms and women and children to come in during this holiday season, so the overflow section is vital.

He said they’ve worked the last six months to gear up for the winter by increasing coat, scarf, and pajama inventory as well as improve staffing across the board.

We saw one unsheltered individual, Lori, come inside during our interview that gave the murphy bed a test run. She was incredibly excited sprawling out on the bed as she talked about her personal struggles.

“It just puts joy in my heart that the vision and planning really worked out well,” said Megli. “All the hard work and money that was invested in these beds, but to be able to see Lori, to be able to lay on this bed go, ‘Ah, I just want to cry, it’s so soft, it’s wonderful,’ – that’s exactly what I was hoping to accomplish.”

City Union Mission’s Christmas Store is open for those looking to volunteer and shop for those in need. Megli anticipates helping 4,000 people through that store that ends Thursday.