BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- The temperature was already in the teens and falling as a dozen men lined up Friday evening under Buffalo’s Central Library on Ellicott Street waiting for volunteers from Hearts for the Homeless to arrive with a warm meal for each of them.
“Usually it’s a lot more than that.” said Hearts for the Homeless volunteer, Rick Izzo. “They had over forty people last night. Tonight they had twelve because these are the die-hards that have enough clothes on. They can wait in the cold to get the food, but it’s a real big need in the city because there is a lot of homeless. We do have cold temperatures this time of year and they really rely on us Hearts for the Homeless and other organizations to take care of them when they need it.”
It is a Code Blue night, meaning anyone can sleep at the City Mission, and a man named Anthony plans to do just that. “I thank God for the people with the loving heart. Thank You Lord for the help, thank you.”
Some will choose to stay outside, according to Izzo. “They’re used to their routine. A lot of them don’t want to have to go somewhere where they have to rely on somebody else.”
But as the temperature approaches zero, accepting an open door at the City Mission could save a life, according to Erie County Health Commissioner Gale Burstein. “The first sign of hypothermia is shivering. When your body is shivering, you have to listen to it. It means that you’re getting too cold and it means that you need to get indoors, so you have to pay attention to that. Frostbite can actually be permanent tissue damage and you can actually lose limbs, so if you believe that your hands and your feet are starting to get numb, again, that’s another sign. Listen to your body. Stay indoors.”
Burstein advises parents to limit their children’s outdoor activities to no more than fifteen minutes at a time when the temperature is in the single digits.