Dozens take refuge at Salvation Army warming center during winter storm

Published: Dec. 22, 2022 at 4:57 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -The Salvation Army in Cedar Rapids opened as a warming center Thursday to allow people to get out of the brutal cold. Staff pitched in to make warm meals and offer an escape from the storm.

”With the storm coming in and being, understanding that the overflow might not be open 24 hours quite yet a few of us decided to come in and make sure everybody had a warm place to stay and food to eat,” said Michelle Stuefen, Interim Kitchen Manager at the Salvation Army.

They served 75 people for breakfast and dozens more for lunch. On average 180 people eat at the Salvation Army each week day, but Thursday proved to be more than a place to grab a bite. The heated building provided safety from the weather.

Aaron Chief Johnstone was so thankful for the generosity of the Salvation Army, he took it upon himself to help clear their sidewalks.

“I seen like a foot of snow on the sidewalk and that you know they do a lot for everybody,” Johnstone said. He recruited others to help.

“Came out here and started shoveling and making people help me. Hey you came here, you eat here, you’re going to come out and shovel too,” said Johnstone.

For Stuefen being there to serve meals means a lot.

“I’ve had close friends even family that have been in similar situations and being on that side wondering if they have a warm place to be when you haven’t talked to them in a few days or had something to eat it’s important you know,” she said.

The warming center was just open for Thursday. The overflow shelter in Cedar Rapids will open Thursday evening and will remain open for 24 hour days to help people escape the cold through the holidays.