Reno, CCNN open homeless warming center

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -- With the recent winter weather, the City of Reno has partnered with Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada to open a warming center to help keep our area’s homeless warm and dry. It’s called #OperationNoFreeze, housed at the St. Vincent’s Dining Room in Reno.

"We've had such prolonged wet weather that folks just can't get dry, and that causes a whole bunch of different problems in addition to just being homeless, so it's critical for helping with their health and their safety," Marie Baxter, CEO of Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada, said.

On a normal day, the St. Vincent’s Dining Room hosts a lunch program with Catholic Charities, where they provide meals for the homeless six days a week. #OperationNoFreeze hopes to assist our homeless population during extreme weather after the homeless and overflow shelters close at 6:00 a.m.

The warming center provides shelter, hot beverages and sometimes hot cereal Monday through Saturday from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. for those in need to start their day off right. The need for the warming center is based off weather conditions.

"Anytime that the weather is below 25 degrees or when it's a day that's going to be particularly rainy or snowy, then we will open up our warming center," Baxter said, “To provide hope and a safe spot to people, or a warm cup of coffee so many of us take for granted in the morning is an incredible feeling."

The first day of #OperationNoFreeze, Baxter said around 200 people showed up. Now, nearly 400 people are showing up. But in order to keep the warming center open, Catholic Charities needs your help.

"We're accepting tangible donations and most importantly volunteers. Anyone that's available in the morning that can come out and help us provide a safe space, we greatly appreciate if you give us a call," Baxter said.

Catholic Charities is accepting donations of coffee, tea, hot chocolate, oatmeal, paper bowls, plastic spoons and hot cups at St. Vincent’s Dining Room, at 325 Valley Road, or at any of its Thrift Store locations. Make sure donations are marked with #OperationNoFreeze. If you’re interested in volunteering, contact Lisa Ross at Catholic Charities at 775-322-7073 ext. 235 or via email at lzross@ccsnn.org.

The city of Reno is looking for additional volunteers and suggestions on additional space that could be used as warming centers across the community. They are needed in the evening as well. Suggestions can be sent to homeless@reno.gov.