Warming Stations Open Amidst Frigid Cold

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With record low temperatures Wednesday into Thursday the Athens community came together to help people escape the freezing temperatures. Several locations served as warming stations, including the Athens Community Center, Stuart’s Opera House and the Plains Volunteer Fire Department.

At least four cots and blankets were set up at the community center and there were sleeping bags and blankets on hand at The Plains VFD for people seeking shelter overnight.

Terry Moore, director for the Athens Arts, Parks and Community Recreation Department said the Center opening as a warming center is part of the job.

“It’s a true community center and that is what we are here for,” she said.

This is first time the center has been opened for this type of use since 2014.

Moore also said they were trying to spread the word not only on social media about the warming center but have had police and the fire department direct people to them as needed. She hopes they are reaching people in need of shelter but said that “in my experience with this community, people look out for each other and have probably helped other people in event they don’t have heat or a home.”

This proved true when speaking to officials in the fire department when people volunteered to take shifts over night for people to say and went as far as people from the community dropped off sleeping bags, blankets and clothes to help do their part.

The county’s department buildings were lending a helping hand to those in seek of overnight shelter even the Stuart’s Opera House was doing everything they could to help people escape the cold, even if for a couple hours.

Emily Prince, the education director at the Opera House said that “it occurred to us that we had this lobby which is spacious that we were going to be heating in any case so it be easier to bring over our laptops and seat over here and we can do the same amount of work but have the space open for the community who needs it.

They said they just wanted to do their part in the community given that they have the space and a lot of people supported her decision to open. Khloe Music, an AmeriCorps service member said that when she posted on the Opera house’s Facebook that “ It caught on in  the first half hour of it being on Facebook as it had well over 200 shares and as of 2 P.M. it was at 500 shares and 500 likes.”

They offered Wi-Fi, hot chocolate, board games and crafts for anyone who was looking to escape the cold or to just come and hangout. Prince said they bearing a significant rise in temperatures that they will be open again Thursday from 9 a.m to 5 p.m.