Group begins work to help the homeless this winter

WICHITA — Church members from Wichita and surrounding cities met this morning to begin work on a program that provides shelters for homeless people in the cold winter months.

The meeting, held at First United Methodist Church, 330 N. Broadway, was the kick-off for this year's Warming Souls program. The program turns a different church into a temporary shelter each month from November to March and provides the homeless who can't go to other shelters food and a warm place to sleep.

The program is overseen by the community group Advocates to End Chronic Homelessness, and although frigid winter weather is months away, June Huie, the group's fundraising chair, said it's important to start planning and raising funds early.

The group has raised $10,000 of the $60,000 needed to staff and run the shelters for five months, Huie said. By starting planning in July, it gives the group time to visit congregations and raise awareness about the program.

Last winter, 475 homeless individuals spent a combined 11,853 nights in the various overflow shelters established through Warming Souls.