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Bitter cold sends homeless inside at warming site

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By Mark Manicone

With a bitterly cold start to this week, the new Lancaster County Warming Center has seen an influx of homeless residents staying the night.
“We’ve had 12 people stay so far, and we need to get the word out more,” said Sharon Novinger, executive director of Lancaster County Partners for Youth. “Law enforcement knows about the shelter, and they do let people know in the community when they see them.”
The warming center is inside the Prime Time for Seniors Center, 309 S. Plantation Road (across from Springdale Recreation Complex).
After last August’s closure of The Citadel House, a homeless shelter founded by Pastor James Pringle, the warming center didn’t have a location ready to go this winter. The Lancaster County Council on Aging allowed the Prime Time Center to be used as a warming center.
The center opened Jan. 2 and will remain open until March 15. But if cold weather lingers, the center could stay open through March 31. The shelter is open from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. each day.
Wednesday and Thursday will feature the only relief from cold temperatures this week, with Wednesday’s high rising to 61 degrees, with a low of 52. There’ll be heavy rain those days and winds of 10 to 14 mph.
The cold returns Thursday night, with a low of 30 degrees. Friday and into the weekend, daytime highs will reach only the mid-40s, with overnight lows from the mid-20s to low 30s. Clear skies are forecast from Friday into early next week.
Novinger said donations have been coming in for the warming center, with plenty of hygiene kits and hot meals.
“There’s still a need for wash cloths and towels. We also need more non-perishable food,” she said. “When people leave the shelter, they are given a hygiene kit and a bag of food. We need more non-perishable items for those bags of food.”
For an updated list of items the shelter needs, call the United Way of Lancaster at (803) 283-8923. Donations can be dropped off at the United Way at 109 S. Wylie St.
Groups that wish to donate meals can sign-up to provide them at www.TakeThemAMeal.com/NXAQ5074.

Follow reporter Mark Manicone on Twitter @mark_manicone or contact him at (803) 283-1152.