Pittsfield warming station at Christian Center keeps people sheltered in frigid temps

Warming Center at Christian Center Pittsfield

A Berkshire County charity is inviting people to come in and warm up in these cold temperatures. The Christian Center in Pittsfield also offers other services to help people through the winter months.

People were lined up outside the Christian Center in Pittsfield in the cold on Wednesday morning.

The center welcomes all, whether the need is clothing, food, or – in these cold temperatures – shelter.

“Our concern is them being out all night in this frigid cold and then during the day and not having anywhere to eat or have a place to rest or warm clothing,” said Karen Ryan, Christian Center Director of Food Services and Services Coordinator. “We have blankets, sleeping bags that we give out, so it’s really important for them to have a place during the day, at least, to come.”

Anyone who comes in out of the cold can get breakfast or a hot lunch.

“A lot of people, even if they are housed in some fashion, it’s not safe, it’s not warm,” said Christian Center Executive Director Betsy Sherman. “They can’t stay during the day. They’re couch-surfing, whatever, and this gives them a place to be, a place to catch up with friends, and a place to be safe.”

About a dozen people stayed through the morning Wednesday.

It’s also a popular day for the food pantry, but the shelves are pretty bare, thanks to the weather.

“We had our snowstorm [Tuesday] and the Western Mass Food Bank has to cancel because the tractor trailer truck comes from Chicopee, so they postponed it for tomorrow,” said Ryan. “So that did affect our giving out for food pantry. Our food pantry is a little bare today.”

Upstairs, the boutique offers lots of clothing, as well as boots, blankets and sleeping bags.

“The real problem for many of our clients is that they’re not sufficiently dressed for this weather,” said Sherman. “If they’re homeless, they come from whatever encampment they’re in. If they’re at the shelter, they come from there. But we see a lot of families who are truly not prepared for the weather we’re having right now.”

The warming center is open again Thursday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and they’re serving breakfast and a hot lunch.