People gather inside Boutwell to take advantage of the warming station that will be open this week. Source: Vanessa Araiza
Donations of sports drinks are delivered to Boutwell Auditorium. They will be passed out to those who need the warming station over the next few nights. Source: Vanessa Araiza
Boutwell Auditorium will be opened as a warming station starting from Wednesday through Sunday this week. Source: WBRC video
A mother and daughter dropped off donations for the people spending the night at Boutwell and left this note, saying it's one of their 26 acts of kindness they're doing in honor of the Sandy Hook Elementary victims. Source: WBRC video
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -
The city of Birmingham is expected to see some cold temperatures in the coming days.
As a precaution, the city is opening up Boutwell Auditorium Wednesday through Sunday night as a warming station. The facility will open at 6 p.m. each evening.
This is the first time Berry Halfacre has had to come to a warming station. Hard times left him homeless.
"The money ran out and you know how that goes," Halfacre said.
He, along with many others, are setting up for the night in Boutwell Auditorium. As temperatures dip, those without a home like Darryl Kimbrell are just looking for a safe spot to keep warm.
"It's life or death for a lot of people. You know, if people didn't do this, then possibly a lot of us wouldn't be able to make it," Kimbrell said.
Thanks to the generosity of complete strangers, those who usually go without aren't as cold this Wednesday night. Community members have also donated everything from coats to backpacks.
"Jefferson County EMA is very generous in loaning us cots and blankets and the community is amazing. The community has responded today like never before," said Don Lupo, director of the Mayor's Office of Citizen Assistance.
As long as the warming station is open, Lupo said he expects these cots to be full. That's something he wants to see.
"For every person we get off the street, that's one less potential disaster that we have on the street," said Lupo.
With hundreds of people filling Boutwell, there are still items that are always needed.
"We need tube socks, we need scarves, we need mittens, we need toboggans. Canned goods are always a big help," said Lupo.
For Halfacre, a warm place to sleep means the world.
"You have two kinds of people. Those that care and those that don't care. Fortunately, we're still on the good care side," said Halfacre.
The warming station will be available until Sunday. The doors will open at 6 p.m. each night and close at 7 a.m. the next morning.
Mayor William Bell will reevaluate the weather situation Sunday and decide if the station needs to stay open.
If you'd like to volunteer, call the office of public information at 205-254-2823. Also, donations of bottled water, blankets and socks and other needed items will be accepted at Boutwell.