some text
The Salvation Army is opening its doors tonight to serve as a cold-weather shelter. People line up at the McCallie Ave. location to get registered to receive a cot and blanket, which they get to keep after the night is over.

How to help

Donations of money or warm clothing or blankets can be taken to:

• Chattanooga Community Kitchen, 727 E. 11th St. Money can also be mailed to Chattanooga Community Kitchen, P.O. Box 11203, Chattanooga, TN 37401.

• Salvation Army of Greater Chattanooga, 822 McCallie Ave. Money can also be donated online at

• Chattanooga Rescue Mission, 1512 S. Holtzclaw Ave.

As temperatures plummet once more, cold-weather shelters for the homeless are opening early again, like they did for the cold snap just a few weeks ago.

Over the next several days, temperatures will be in the 40s during the day and 20s overnight, according to the National Weather Service -- dangerously low nighttime temperatures for those without shelter.

The early cold is stretching the Salvation Army thinner than ever before, said Kimberly George, director of marketing and development for the Salvation Army of Greater Chattanooga.

"We are having to open (Thursday and Friday) night, which really, really stretches us," George said. "We're asking the community to really step up monetarily, as well as donate new heaters as well as gloves, scarves, coats, those types of items."

George said that opening shelters earlier in the year than anticipated stretches their finances because their major fundraising campaign over the holidays has not yet begun. Cold weather can also discourage Salvation Army bell ringers from volunteering, resulting in dips in those funds. Early cold weather also means there needs to be an earlier influx of donated supplies like blankets or heaters.

The longer the cold weather lasts, the more shelters will have to dip into reserve funds and supplies.

The Salvation Army's cold-weather shelter will be open tonight at 800 McCallie Ave., George said. It usually houses about 80 residents. Its day shelter will also be open all day, except for between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., when the shelter closes for lunch and cleaning.

The Chattanooga Rescue Mission will also have a shelter open during the cold, with emergency overflow space available if more people need shelter than expected, said director Donald Baer. That shelter is located at 1512 S. Holtzclaw Ave., and can house about 80 people.

Baer said the mission, too, needs donations.

"(Wednesday) we handed out all the gloves we had and could use some more," he said, adding they could also use socks, shoes, coats and other clothing to give away.

A third shelter will open at the Chattanooga Community Kitchen, said Jens Christensen, executive director. Although the kitchen hopes to open a full-time cold-weather shelter on Dec. 15, he said they would be open overnight as well as tonight and possibly through the weekend, depending on temperatures.

"If the weather remains the same, we will absolutely be open," he said.

The Community Kitchen can hold up to 180 people.

The Chattanooga Community Kitchen also needs blankets and financial assistance in order to keep its shelter open starting in December, as well as to fund a family shelter it hopes to open over the holidays. Right now, the kitchen is about $30,000 short of being able to keep its shelter open through March.

Between the three shelters, there should be enough room to house those in need, Baer said.

Contact staff writer Hannah Smith at or at 423-757-6731.