Homeless shelters gearing up for freezing temperatures overnight

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) - Local homeless shelters are preparing for a busy night as temperatures fall.

Several shelters that work with The Homeless Alliance have extra overnight beds when the temperature drops below 32 degrees.

Richard Countess was on the streets for a year and a half, and he says The Homeless Alliance played a huge part in helping him get back on his feet.

"In the wintertime, you're freezing trying to keep all the clothes on you can," he said.

The Alliance uses the National Weather Service to determine when temperatures reach freezing point.

"It'll be really interesting to see what the numbers will be today because sometimes when the weather's really, really bad, unsheltered homeless people will just hunker down where they are, but often they'll come in," executive director Dan Straughan said.

City Rescue Mission opens its overnight shelter when it's below 40 degrees.

"We started preparing about three months ago. We've increased our blanket supplies. We're serving over 1,200 meals a day. We've been gearing up for this, increased security," Erin Goodin, president/CEO of City Rescue Mission, said.

Both organizations say they're in need of donations: coats, hats, gloves, hand warmers, and especially socks.

They say preparing for winter is routine every year, but this time, the cold came sooner.

"Aside from the night before Halloween, this kind of snuck up on us," Straughan said.

The shelters can also be lifesaving.

"Last winter we had zero deaths because of this program," he said.

For Countess, he's been in his own place now for two months and volunteers at The Homeless Alliance to give back.

"It feels great because I'm off the streets, and I got the heat going so I don't have to worry about that anymore," he said.

For a list of locations and bed counts, click here.

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