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Brutal winter puts strain on shelters - abc27 WHTM

Brutal winter puts strain on shelters

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

Since winter will not let up, Midstate shelters are seeing record amounts of people. It is putting a strain on resources as they prepare for yet another storm.

At the Bethesda Mission, more people than ever before are seeking shelter from the winter weather.

"I always get up thinking something good is gonna happen to me today," said Don Swan, who is living homeless on the streets of Harrisburg.

"I was in the Marine Corps. from 1965 to 1967," Swan said. "I was a certified nursing assistant in geriatric care, nursing homes."

But in the mid 1990's, his life changed.

"My marriage was falling apart, I was a manager at a convenience store in a little town," Swan said. "I walked away with the deposit."

Charged with larceny, Don has not been able to get back on his feet.

"If you haven't had a current work record they're not gonna touch you. And if you're like me, you're not electronic, you know?" he said.

With no job and no house the streets of Harrisburg became Swan's home. On cold winter nights, he escapes to the Bethesda Mission.

"Because it's warm and I need a place to stay," Swan said.

Don is just one of many. This winter is so brutal, record numbers of people are coming to the Bethesda Mission to stay warm. That is putting a strain on volunteers and workers.

"Yes definitely worth it because you know if you can just do one for one," said Sterling Tarbert, who works at the mission. "The least that you do for these you do unto me. If we can just make someone feel like they met Christ today, amen. That's what's up."

Helping so many people means the mission is running low on items like pillows, blankets, socks, and personal care items.

"Sometimes we do run out and I one of the guys living here as a guest can we use one of your blankets tonight cause we don't have enough. We're constantly in need of those things," Tarbert said.

If you would like to donate, you can drop items off at the Bethesda Mission located at 611 Reily St. in Harrisburg.

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