Heat Brings Surge of People to The Salvation Army
By Addison Speck, Reporter
IOWA CITY, Iowa - The long stretch of summer heat has one Eastern Iowa non-profit serving more food and opening earlier. The Salvation Army in Iowa City has been working hard to help everyone without air-conditioning or shelter. Some people have been handling the hot temperatures without even a fan. While The Salvation Army is doing a good job at serving the recent boom of people, they still could use some help.
"We are getting about 20 calls a day for people asking about fans," said Lia Pontarelli, the Director of Development and Communications. You can imagine why fans are in high demand lately.
During the summer, The Salvation Army typically provides them to those in need. "Our budget is strapped, very much right now and unfortunately we are not able to go and purchase fans right now," said Pontarelli. Not very many have been donated this summer either. So to help provide relief from the heat, the non-profit has been opening their doors earlier and having ice water ready to go.
"Five hours in here, in cooler weather can recharge you, it's crucial," said Bill Bleeker, a Volunteer. Bleeker was homeless for four weeks of his life, he knows how important a cool oasis like The Salvation Army can be. "It means everything, because if you're just carrying what you have on your back and you have to troll that around to places, you want a place where you can come in and stay a few hours," said Bleeker.
The building isn't just filling up with those who need to cool off, but also those who's energy bills have been so high they perhaps can't afford to eat. "In June we served 98 people at dinner one night. We had people going all the way down the hall, people going out the drive way," said Bleeker. He said they typically serve the most people towards the end of the month. However, they've already had some big turnouts, even in just the first week of July.
Salvation Army leaders said they try also to serve cold food this time of year. However, since they rely on donations most of their food is served hot. As far as donations beyond fans, The Salvation Army could also use items like water bottles and even deodorant.
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