|Updated: 7/06/2012 9:03 am
||Published: 7/05/2012 6:37 pm
The stifling heat plaguing Tulsa early this summer has been tough on everyone, but especially the homeless people who have no place to cool off.
Now organizations that help keep homeless people safe and healthy are feeling the financial squeeze much sooner than they're used to.
This time last year the John 3:16 Mission was serving about 300 to 400 meals a day. Over the past few weeks, the organization has been serving up to 600 meals a day.
The Salvation Army's Center of Hope has been seeing similar problems. That's tough for these organizations to deal with in the summer when charitable giving is usually down anyway.
But it's been most difficult for the homeless people themselves.
"Walking around in this stuff trying to do a job application and you're trying to look good, and you're just covered [in sweat] by the time you get anywhere," Shawn Walsh said. "It takes its toll on you."
Walsh recently moved to Tulsa from Little Rock with his son, and has had trouble landing on his feet.
The Salvation Army has given him fresh meals and a bed to sleep in, but he said it seems to always be packed.
"I was wondering if it might get into their funding, because it's normally like July and August [when more people need help]," he said. "And here it's hit us in June."
"Our bills are going up," Sallie Godwin, Public Relations Director for the Salvation Army, said. "The other change we've seen is we're seeing more families."
The Salvation Army never turns people away, so it's having to keep up with growing demand for services with no extra cash coming in.
John 3:16 Mission is facing the same problem. Rev. Steve Whitaker said he's seen many families trying to manage on their own without help, but just can't seem to beat the heat.
"The cost of keeping up with the electric bill and keeping air conditioners that run, and all those other things," Whitaker said. "It all adds to and kind of builds to the pile of things they just can't take care of."
He worries his facility's high air conditioning costs and serving more people will burn up his budget.
Walsh, meanwhile, just hopes he can get back on his feet and find his own home to cool off.
"We're hoping," he said. "We're looking at maybe four to five weeks and maybe we'll have our own place and me a job."
Both organizations always need people to donate money, and this summer they can use all the bottled water donations they can get.
John 3:16 Mission is also looking for people to donate men's, women's and children's socks and underwear so the people he serves have fresh, clean clothes to change into after being out in the heat sweating all day.
To donate $10 to the Salvation Army you can text the word "Tulsa" to 85944.
To donate to John 3:16 Mission call 918-587-1186.