Shelters open for Operation Deep Freeze

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Operation Deep Freeze is in effect in Tucson tonight.  The Salvation Army opens up it's overflow shelter when temperatures fall below 35 degrees, or 40 with precipitation.

All beds were full at the hospitality house which houses 91 people.  More than 40 homeless men who showed up at the Salvation Army to get out of the cold were bused to St. Paul's Methodist Church on Broadway Blvd. to spend the night.

Buses also showed up with men who showed up at the Gospel Rescue Mission for help.

The gymnasium of the church was set up with dozens of cots for the homeless.  Many of the men who were staying there for the night said they knew what it felt like to sleep out in the cold.

Gary Spears had been homeless for 15 days.

"I came out of prison,did 13 years, didn't know anyone in Tucson. I"ve slept in alleys.. I've slept in abandoned houses.

It was terrible I only had a jacket, I just froze all night so I had to walk around because I couldn't lay there and freeze you know," said Spears.

Yolie Hasler, a Program Manager at the Hospitality House said they usually see people they had never seen before when the cold spell hits.  The Salvation army provides them with hot meals, showers, lets them do laundry, and has counselors and staff available to tell them about services available in the community.

Micaias Delgado was one of many women staying at the shelter.  She never thought she would find herself homeless.

"I would say it's tough, just the little taste I got, I don't desire that on my worst enemy," said Delgado.

Staff at the church prepared hot chocolate and bagged sack lunches for the homeless to take with them, when they head back out on the streets tomorrow.  They even plan to feed them a big breakfast.

The Salvation Army is desperately in need of warm coats and blankets.  Staff said donations have been sparse this year.

Donations of new and gently used coats, warm clothing, mittens, gloves, scarves, and blankets can be dropped off at any of the five Naughton's locations in Tucson.

North: 1140 W. Prince

South: 4226 S. 6th Ave.

East: 6202 E. Speedway

Northwest: 3936 W. Costco Dr.

Southeast: 8190 E.22nd St.

You can also drop them off at Burlington's.

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