POCATELLO — With the cold temperatures that Pocatello has recently seen comes the need for warming shelter, and the First Congregational United Church of Christ is ensuring a cozy one for the masses.
Those who need a place to warm up from the brittle elements can find one at the daytime drop-in shelter at the church’s gym at 309 N. Garfield Ave., open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The warming shelter also provides light meals such as soup and snacks and will offer warm beverages such as coffee and tea. In addition, Pastor Starr Reardon explained the church can also provide some entertainment with movies or basketball and that sleeping bags are available for those who need one.
“Basically, we’re just giving a person a break from the weather,” Reardon said.
The church has been running a warming shelter for the past three years and houses a thrift store in the church’s basement that allows individuals to purchase much-needed items for a low price.
While the church isn’t equipped to run full-time with lunches, they do strive to provide what resources they can to the public as well as offer a safe haven from the cold during the winter season. They also hope to help those who may fall through the cracks such as people instantly released from jail.
“The new Aid for Friends shelter is just fantastic, but sometimes it isn’t open to take in an extra man or an extra female, so we need to make sure we always have a space available,” Reardon said. “When people get out of jail they can’t get directly into a shelter from the jail. They have to have a cooling off period, a 24 hour period. So oftentimes that’s what warming shelters are good for. … So we always try to have something available.”
Reardon said that they’ll continue to have a daytime drop-in warming shelter until the First Baptist Church at 408 N. Arthur Ave. gets their Valley Mission permanent shelter up and running, which is still in the process of being formed and developed.
“We feel like it’s our calling and the calling of every church to care for the poor,” Reardon said. “We don’t do this in a religious fashion, we don’t preach to people who come in, but we feel it is a calling for every Christian church to care for the poor. ... Caring for people has to come first. If you look at the Old Testament, all the way through God focuses on the poor and the marginalized. He has a heart for the poor. And if we are going to emulate God in any way, it should be caring for our neighbors like that.”
The warming shelter is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The church also hosts Alcoholics Anonymous meetings from Monday through Friday at noon. For more information, visit their Facebook page at First Congregational United Church of Christ – Pocatello or call 208-232-3056.