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Red Cross Emergency Warming Shelters Keep Hundreds Warm

Oregon Trail Chapter Emergency Warming Center, American Red Cross
The Red Cross mission is to alleviate human suffering,” said Maree Wacker, regional CEO for the Cascades Region of the Red Cross. “For people who sleep outside, these temperatures pose a life-threatening emergency and the Red Cross is there to help.

For the seventh year in a row, the Cascades Region of the Red Cross has partnered with the City of Portland to operate an emergency warming shelter when temperatures drop dangerously low. These shelters provide a safe haven for some of Portland’s most vulnerable citizens, and this season has been particularly busy. As of Dec. 12, the shelters have been running for 9 consecutive nights (13 nights total this year) and have accommodated 1,362 overnight stays for human guests, and 80 overnight stays for their pets.

“The Red Cross mission is to alleviate human suffering,” said Maree Wacker, regional CEO for the Cascades Region of the Red Cross. “For people who sleep outside, these temperatures pose a life-threatening emergency and the Red Cross is there to help."

It takes 35 staff members and volunteers to operate a shelter per night. Shelter sites this year include Imago Dei Community and St. Francis in Portland’s SE neighborhood and Congregation Shaarie Torah in NW Portland. Red Cross warming shelters provide all guests with blankets, sleeping mats and warm beverages and are the only pet-friendly shelters in the city. And unlike many facilities that have restrictions on gender and age, Red Cross warming shelters are open to all individuals who need a warm, safe place to sleep.