Warming station opens at St. Vincent de Paul store in Port Angeles

PORT ANGELES — The St. Vincent de Paul Society Thrift Store has opened a warming station for those with nowhere to go to get out of the cold.

The warming station in the rear of the store at 112 E. Eighth St., Port Angeles, will offer warmth, hot coffee and snacks from 8:30 a.m. to noon today, Christmas Day and Saturday.

It will be closed Sunday and open the following Monday for its regular schedule of 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Originally, organizers had planned to close the refuge — marked by a sign at the east door, off the parking lot between the thrift store and the Peninsula Community Mental Health Center — today through Sunday unless temperatures fell below freezing.

With a National Weather Service forecast of a low of 30 tonight, Barbara Townsend, treasurer of the Port Angeles St. Vincent de Paul Society, said Wednesday that the staff had made the decision to open with truncated hours during the Christmas holiday weekend.

“We have five people here now,” Townsend said Wednesday morning.

The heaviest use of the warming station has been in the mornings, she said.

“They come here almost immediately after the overnight shelter closes,” she said, referring to the Serenity House Street Outreach Shelter at 520 E. First St., Port Angeles, which is open nightly from 9 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. S.O.S. operating hours expand to 7:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. during freezing weather.

Station opened Monday

The warming station opened Monday, and although the weather was mild each of its first two days, three people used the station each day. One woman came both days, and four men each came once.

“They stayed until it was time to go to the Salvation Army for lunch, and they seemed to be content,” Townsend said.

The Salvation Army at 206 S. Peabody St., Port Angeles, offers a free meal daily from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

On Friday, the Salvation Army will have a Christmas Day public feast from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. All families interested in attending must stop by the Salvation Army to pick up a ticket before the meal.

After Serenity House put out a call for warming station volunteers, St. Vincent’s Townsend offered to host the station until March 1, the day the agency vacates the building.

The thrift store’s last regular business day will be Dec. 31, followed by a January clearance sale.

Townsend was a founding member of the Port Angeles St. Vincent’s chapter in 1986 and led in opening the Catholic charity’s thrift store 21 years ago.

“We’re happy to fill the hole,” Townsend said. “That’s what we’ve done best over the past 23 years.”

Future location

In the future, the warming station will be in the Serenity House Hygiene Center, now under construction at 516 E. First St., Port Angeles.

St. Vincent’s could use donations of cash, coffee supplies and simple snack foods, as well as volunteer help at the warming station mornings or on frigid Sundays or holidays, said Townsend, who can be reached at 360-457-5735 or svdppa@olypen.com.

For more information about the Street Outreach Shelter or Hygiene Center, contact Laurie Kross at 360-504-5657.

Port Townsend’s overnight shelter for homeless is in the American Legion Post 26 basement at 208 Monroe St. It is open from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. each day. For more information, phone Olympic Community Action Programs at 360-385-2571.

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