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Out of the cold: How you can help local people without a home

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GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ)--As winter weather moves into town, some fear Grand Forks may see some of our most vulnerable residents left out in the cold.

Three men died in the last two winters after being found outside in below freezing temperatures.

Now, our area’s only homeless shelter is sending volunteers out into the cold, and they’re asking for your help to bring people inside and prevent more deaths.

"We just want to make sure that everybody is in some place warm overnight and that we don't have people freezing and sleeping in places that aren't safe,” said Sue Shirek, of Northlands Rescue Mission.

Northlands Rescue Mission has been helping about 85 people each night with a place to stay.

They've also been on the streets meeting anyone who may need their help -- in hopes of keeping them out of the cold.

"Offering them some things like dry socks and some food snacks and some quilts in case they choose not to come into the shelter,” said Shirek.

It's a change -- the new executive director says was necessary -- after the deaths of several men.

At least one of those cases -- a man was turned away from the shelter for being under the influence -- a violation of the shelter's policy.

Instead -- the mission is working with police and other organizations to get people inside.

"Just being that name and that face and that person who reaches out to them."

And out of harm’s way.

If you want to help the executive director says the best thing you can do is call.

If you see someone you think may be sleeping outside -- give Northlands Rescue Mission or police a call and they will send someone to check things out.