Church Welcomes Community to Warm Up

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WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- With temperatures expected to dip below freezing, a church in Williamsport is inviting people to come in out of the cold.

"An individual last year who came in and had frostbite on his feet, we ended up getting him admitted to the hospital," said John Best, First United Methodist Church. "If he stayed out in the cold, who knows what would have happened to him?"

For the second year, First United Methodist Church on Market Street in Williamsport is opening its doors to anyone who needs a warm place to sleep this winter. They're calling it "Code Blue Emergency Warming Center."

"The rules are if it's 32 degrees or below by three o'clock on the Weather Channel, we are open," said Ron Frick.

John Best helped kick start the program. Last January, First Church held the pop-up shelter for three days. This year with support from church members and nonprofits, including the United Way and American Rescue Workers, the church hopes to continue the program through the winter months.

"Entry time is from 9 to 10. We'll lock the door for security reasons at that point," Best explained.

The church officially opened Code Blue Emergency Warming Center on January 3 and has room for over a dozen people each night. So far, no one has taken advantage of this free program.

"It's going to be difficult for them to feel comfortable walking into the doors of a church when they haven't done it before," said Frick. "We just want people to know this is a comfortable place. It's a place where people are going to love and a place where you can stay overnight and get a snack."

The church plans to continue this new program until March 16.

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