The Salvation Army’s Lighthouse Emergency Shelter in Salmon Arm hasn’t been open long, but already it’s busy.
With 18 beds, the shelter has been averaging 12 people per night since it opened on Nov. 1, reports Dave Byers, community services manager.
A lot of those staying at the shelter are regulars, with four or five new people.
“About seven of them were from last year; we knew them quite well from last year, we figured they’d show up again,” remarks Byers.
Of the 18 beds, 14 are for men and four for women. So far just one woman has stayed.
The shelter operates on a first-come, first-served basis, so beds can’t be held for anyone. There’s quite a rush at 6 p.m. when doors open, Byers says, because everybody wants to get a lower bunk.
Hours are from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. daily, with everyone out at 8:30 a.m. so floors can be washed and bathrooms cleaned.
The building, at 441 3rd St. SW, also houses the food bank.
On this particular day, it’s a hub of activity as volunteers help out with organizing the donated food and other tasks, while a few people sit at tables, having a hot drink or a plate of pasta.
“We have a lot of people that just need friendship,” Byers remarks.
Asked what the shelter and food bank need, he has a few requests:
• volunteers. In many areas, but in particular now help sorting donated bottles and cans for recycling.
• protein such as peanut butter, canned meat (not tuna fish currently), cheese.
• fresh fruit, healthy snacks.
“A few of our guys are looking for healthier snacks,” Byers reports.
• personal hygiene products, including single use razors. Byers says he doesn’t think the shelter could ever have too much, as they can get lost after being handed out.
• some good sleeping bags rated for -25 degrees or so.
“A few folks are staying outside who will not come into the shelter,” he explains.
• financial contributions. Byers notes the food bank can often stretch a dollar into three or four by being able to get good discounts on items.
On that note, the Salvation Army’s Kettle Drive will be kicked off by the Salmon Arm Silverbacks from Nov. 18 to 21 at the Mall at Piccadilly, with the kettles going up around town on the 22nd.
Any cheques received will automatically generate a receipt, and cash donations can also be dropped off at the food bank office.
Byers expresses gratitude for all the support the food bank and shelter receive.
Recently Women Who Wine did a fundraiser, as well as the home-schoolers. A lot of churches and service groups help provide meals. Some businesses contribute consistently. Farther afield, organizations such as Foodbanks BC, Food Banks Canada and labour unions have provided recent support.