As the months tick away and the temperature continues to drop, there's no escaping the fact that fall is here, winter is around the corner, and the harsh elements can be brutal to Northlanders.  This is especially true for those less fortunate and the homeless population.

To ease the situation, CHUM has historically operated a Warming Center to help ensure a safe night time space for people who are experiencing homelessness in the Duluth area.  Organizers are planning on offering the service again this winter - but they need help.

According to details shared by St. Louis County, staff members of CHUM will always be present at the Warming Center while it's open.  However, at least two volunteers are needed every evening - from approximately 7:30 PM to 10:00 PM and then again in the morning, from approximately 7:00 AM until 9:00 AM.

The additional volunteer staff is needed to help with a variety of duties - including clean up, set up, serving coffee, and assisting in the distribution of clothing and hygiene supplies.  There is an additional need for some volunteer hours when the building is not open to guests - including for sorting donations and cleaning.

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While everyone is invited to help out, there are a few stipulations or qualifications in place.  All volunteers must be 18 years of age or older.  Additionally, they're required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.  The county also shares that "[b]ecause many of the warming center's guests live with high barriers to housing and shelter, including untreated mental illness and substance abuse disorder, volunteers should have compassion, healthy boundaries, and an ability to adapt to changing needs"

The Warming Center organized by CHUM will be open nightly - November 1 through April 1 "as long as there are adequate staffing levels".  Initially, the Warming Center will be located at the Rainbow Center in downtown Duluth:  211 North 3rd Avenue East.  Once renovations are finished at the new site in Lincoln Park, it will move to that location.

While CHUM takes the organizational lead on the project, the Warming Center is a collaboration with Loaves & Fishes, the City of Duluth, St. Louis County, and the Duluth HRA.

To sign up to volunteer, visit the spreadsheet established on the Warming Center Volunteers website.  You can also find a link on the CHUM website.  Questions regarding the program or the opportunity can be directed at Joel Kilhour:  218-340-4356.

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In addition to the volunteer of man-hours, the Warming Center also relies on donations of a variety of supplies that are needed in order to operate.  "Supplies that are regularly needed include socks (cotton and thermal - adult sizes), men's and women's (new) underwear, winter coats, hats, gloves, mittens - in adult sizes, hand warmers, foot warmers, backpacks, reusable bags, granola bars, and coffee".

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If you're interested in making a donation, they can be brought to the Dorothy Day House:  1712 Jefferson Street in Duluth between 12 Noon and 7:00 PM Monday through Saturday, or to CHUM: 102 West 2nd Street, Duluth - between 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM Monday through Friday.

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