The temperature is bottoming out and the metro is caught in the icy grip of the season. Dangerously cold weather has set up shop.
These kinds of conditions put the Salvation Army into motion. Their Winter Night Watch crew makes sure the homeless have food and clothing in these frigid conditions.
Chris Jarko is a volunteer who tells us, “If you think you've got it rough, try giving coats and meals to people who have nothing more than a hoodie and a pair of blue jeans on a night like tonight."
Jarko and three others handed out a meals and warm clothing to those who stopped by. They make three stops along Omaha's Leavenworth Street, while another crew does the same to the south.
Jarko said, “In previous years I've seen kids out here getting food for their family at this particular stop. We never judge the need, question the need, but I can't imagine trying to raise my kid living in Omaha in the winter living out of a car or a van."
Meanwhile, on the other side of town, the Open Door Mission’s James Cummings said, “Some of them are coming to us and they don't have winter gear - winter hats, or coats. They are coming with fall and spring jackets on."
Cummings says the Mission was bracing for a night of serving nearly 600 people.
“This room will be completely full with mats on the floor; women and children just being able to be out of the cold tonight," he said.
While these relief crews may not have ever walked in these shoes, volunteer Frank Frerich told us, “It's something that I just can't, I don't know how I couldn't do it. I mean, I was just never in that position."
The Winter Night Watch program is fueled by donations so the next time you hear someone ringing a bell and see them with a red kettle, think about this program. This is one of the places your contributions will go.