With temperatures hovering in the single digits due to the recent inversion in the Missoula valley, more people are searching for a warm place to spend the night.

Captain Ryan Boyd with the Missoula Salvation Army said her new warming shelter has been up and running since just after Christmas.

“We opened on December 29th and it’s been going very well,” said Boyd. “Over the last 17 days we’ve had over 500 guests, and on our biggest night we had over 45 guests. We are open for people to come and spend the night and be warm so they don’t have to sleep on the streets.”

Boyd said visitors can have a warm place to sleep and enjoy a shower and laundry facilities at the center, however, she said donations of personal hygiene items are always welcome from the community.

“We’re just a sleeping shelter, so we have mats and when we open at 9:00 a.m. they can come and use our hygiene center to do laundry and take a shower, but we do not have the ability to serve food, however the Poverello Center does serve three meals every day.”

Amy Allison Thompson is the Executive Director of the Poverello Center, and on Tuesday, she said the center has been full every night.

“We have been incredibly busy here,” said Allison Thompson. “We are seeing numbers here almost every night near our caps so we’re not turning people away every night, which is good. We are incredibly grateful that the Salvation Army has opened their warming shelter as of the end of December and they are seeing somewhere around 30 people every night, so that has taken a huge load off of our staff.”

Allison Thompson said they serve upwards of 500 meals every day, breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week.

“Our staff makes that happen through donations from our local grocery rescue program,” she said. “We pick up thousands of pounds of food each week to provide each of those meals. That is food that is about to expire that otherwise would have gone into landfills. In 2017 we rescued over half a million pounds of food from landfills in our community and put them in the hungry bellies of Missoulians.”

500 meals a day for 365 days equals 182,500 meals served each year at the Poverello Center.

To donate to the Salvation Army, drop off hygiene supplies at their headquarters at 355 South Russell.

To donate to the Poverello Center, bring warm socks, coats, stocking caps and sleeping bags to 1110 West Broadway.