By Tamas Mondovics
Hillsborough County opened its cold weather shelters located throughout the Greater Brandon, SouthShore and Tampa Bay areas for the first time this season on November 27 to serve the homeless and those who live in homes without adequate heat.
According to County officials, the decision was made as the National Weather Service expected the local wind chill factor to fall below 32 degrees beginning the evening through morning, providing shelter and food for many who need to take advantage of the provision.
Hillsborough County coordinates with local organizations to provide cold weather shelters but are seeking the support of the community through donations of shelter supplies.
“The Brandon Community Center, Jackson Springs Recreation Center and Wimauma Community Center are all accepting donations of shelter supplies, such as hats, gloves, scarves, blankets, disinfectant wipes, disposable cups, coffee, creamer, paper plates, plastic utensils and sugar,” said County spokesperson, Crystal L. Pruitt. “Those wishing to donate supplies should contact each individual shelter.”
Each year, local shelters assist thousands of individuals during the winter months providing them with evening meals, a place to sleep out of the cold, as well as breakfast, all purchased by organizations such as the Metropolitan Ministries.
Pruitt emphasized that during the cold season, residents who need to be outside overnight or during the early morning hours, are encouraged to dress in several warm layers and limit skin exposure to the wind.
Shelter locations and operation times:
Brandon Community Center, 510 E. Sadie St. in Brandon, opens at 6 p.m. and is for homeless individuals and families with children in the Brandon area. Phone: 635-8179
Metropolitan Ministries, 2010 N. Florida Ave. in Tampa, opens at 4 p.m. and is for families. After hours phone: 209-1077.
Salvation Army, 1514 N. Florida Ave. in Tampa, opens at 4 p.m. and is only for adults. After hours phone: 221-4440
Jackson Springs Recreation Center, 8620 Jackson Springs Road in Town ‘N Country, opens at 6:30 p.m. and is for adults and families. Phone: 554-5064
Wimauma Community Center, 5705 Hillsborough St. in Wimauma, opens at 6 p.m. and is for adults and families. Phone 635-3500.
Most cold weather shelters close around 7 a.m.
For more information, visit www.hillsboroughcounty.org.