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The Salvation Army of Tallahassee transforms its store into a Community Relief Center

Posted at 6:33 PM, Apr 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-17 19:04:12-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Just days after the Kearney Center relocated its last client out of its shelter, we're now learning how other local organizations are stepping up to help the homeless.

The Salvation Army of Tallahassee store that was once fill with racks of clothes and secondhand goods is now completely empty in an effort to create a Community Relief Center for Tallahassee's homeless community.

Volunteers working throughout the week to help sell, save, or ship inventory from the 7,500 square foot facility to new locations.

"There were dozens of volunteers that have come to help us out," said Lt. Ryan Meo from the Salvation Army of Tallahassee. "From church members and animal control officers, and many others who came to lend a hand. So this is a totally community effort from the ground up."

Lt. Meo says while plans aren't completely finalized, they've taken the first step toward a new way to serve the community during this time of crisis, and leaders in Leon County say they appreciate the support, including Shington Lamy, the director of Leon County's Office of Human Services and Community Partnerships

"They're able to assist us providing that overflow so we can provide places where someone can sleep, provide places for meals, places for shower," said Lamy. "And things are gonna be critical during this time of need that everyone in our community is facing, especially our most vulnerable, which is our homeless population."

According to a point-in-time survey from Big Bend Homeless Coalition, there are more than 700 homeless people in Tallahassee on any given day. Lamy says, so far, no one in Tallahassee's homeless community has tested positive for COVID-19.

The Salvation Army plans to begin extending services as early as next week.

The addition of new Community Relief Centers would help keep those individuals safe and sheltered while adhering to CDC guidelines.

The Salvation Army also plans to utilize its fellowship hall as a cafeteria and commercial kitchen, as they did in prior emergency response situations, like during Hurricane Michael.

It's the Salvation Army's newest plan to achieve their mission of meeting human needs.

"Beginning as soon as next week, we anticipate using the space for operations and feeding non-congregate sheltering sites, providing hygiene relief, snack kits and other things," Lt. Meo said. "We invest in a space where people may be able to come and just be provided with different sort of hygiene assistance or hot meals, as well as a place just to rest for a little while and to be practicing safe social distancing."

While the Salvation Army is no longer accepting donations or in need of volunteers, that could change as the crisis continues.