D. C. Moody
EASLEY — The winter of 2013-14 has been a mild one but as the new year has kicked into full gear, the cold has finally arrived with overnight temperatures below freezing and leaving many with few choices for relief.
“For Pickens and Oconee counties there aren’t many places that offer beds and a place to stay here,” Clemson Community Care Director Karen Ellers said. “Miracle Hill has a shelter in Pickens and there’s Our Daily Rest in Seneca. Other than that Anderson is the closest choice.”
With temperatures steadily dropping and winter setting in for the foreseeable future local outreach centers and shelters are being pushed to their limits.
“Right now it’s not necessarily a place to stay overnight,” Ellers said. “For a lot of families it’s a need for heating assistance or kerosene for their space heaters. The local power companies do a great job during the winter months working with those who need it but there’s still a need for the community to help.”
Blankets, hats, coats, gloves, and socks are among the items needed locally to help fight the cold but just as much is an overwhelming need for financial donations to help pay power bills and stave off the weather.
“We have a waiting list for a regular bed here,” said Susan Pickett, director of Our Daily Rest. “Any time the weather makes an extreme change, hot or cold, we have a much higher demand. Our problem is we are a smaller facility and geared to be a transitional home, not a shelter.”
Though the options for the homeless in the area are limited, Pickens County is in the process of developing a program designed to meet the needs of local families during extreme conditions. But that program won’t be in effect in time to alleviate the needs of the present.
“We’re doing really well following Christmas, but that’s because most people do their giving during the holidays,” Pickett said. “What we need help with is keeping people warm, whether it’s hats and gloves or money to help keep the lights on or offset power bills. That’s where we need people to give.”
According to Ellers, reaching out is the key.
“Even if you don’t do anything but check on family and friends more often,” Ellers said. “Not just family and friends, but the elderly in your community. Check on them more often than normal, just to make sure everyone is safe.”
Community outreach organizations across the area are asking for donations of blankets, gloves, and coats, not to mention financial donations to help get through this crucial time of the year.