KARM Working to Bring Area Homeless in From Bitter Cold

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

Knoxville (WVLT) - The cold temperatures could have you reaching to turn up your thermostat, but that's not an option for the more than 1,000 Knoxvillians who call the street home. So Knox Area Rescue Ministries' rolled out the blankets and opened it's doors to anyone in need.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy stopped by Monday night where it was expected to be busy.

KARM says have 216 people have rested their heads on pillows. On average, 58 percent of Knoxville's homeless spend the night at KARM, but as the temperatures drop, those numbers rise.

Shawn Murphy doesn't need a thermometer to tell.

"It's cold out there," Murphy said.

For Murphy and 1,500 others who call Knoxville's streets home, it's also dangerous.

"You might as well put a gun to your head and pull the trigger. It's not set up for a person to be out there on a cold night," Murphy said.

Thanks to Knox Area Rescue Ministries, he doesn't have to.

"I'm very thankful. Without them, I couldn't be able to survive," Murphy said.

Monday night, bags, and more than 200 homeless filled KARM'S lobby.

"It's going to be a very busy night here," KARM's executive director, Burt Rosen, said.

The temperature's expected to fall to around 25 degrees tonight. So when the temperatures drop outside, the number of folks going inside goes up.

That means too many bodies, not enough beds.

"We're averaging about 225 men in a space for 200 and nearly 65 women in a space for 40," Rosen said.

So after the Chapel service wraps up...

"We'll put mattresses down on the floor. We'll make sure we're obeying all the fire safety codes, but we'll get those on the floor," Rosen said.

Normally the doors close at 6:30.

"But on cold days like this, white flags in operation, which means everyone keeps their doors open to make sure on one has to go out in the freezing cold temperatures," Rosen said.

Everyone also gets a hot meal, shower, and change of clothes for the night.

"God command in the scriptures is that we're supposed to take care of the poor and the needy," Rosen said.

Murphy says his bed and pillow are heaven sent.

"God is real. God gave me a place to rest my head when I didn't have none," Murphy said.

A place he can rest his head again tomorrow.

KARM says they could use your help. Blankets, sheets, pillows and towels are always needed. Also just like your utilities, the cost of hot water and heat isn't free. So cash donations are also gladly accepted.


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