ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) – As we still feel the bitter cold from winter storms, shelters and charities are converting their facilities into heating centers for the homeless. Some businesses are also staying open to help customers get the most out of their celebrations.
It’s not just about having a place and food at Christmas. Members of Rochester’s homeless community told us that the Vineyard Farm that took them in probably saved their lives because they saw what was happening outside. With weather keeping some people out of their homes this weekend, a neighborhood pizzeria is making sure locals are having the best holiday season at home.
Beginning Friday, Sister Martha Allen and her team gathered as many needy people as possible at the homeless encampment and welcomed them into their home at Vineyard Farms, where they served hot Celebrate Christmas with food and music.
“Vendors working on the street have been helping us,” said Sister Allen, Vineyard Farm Director. “Pillows, blankets, propane, everything we need to adapt to because we’ve been able to do that.”
To make more room, Sister Martha Allen had guests screen the gazebo outside to keep out the wind, and heated the room for people to sleep in. Without that help, they’d be stuck outside in their tent all weekend.
“I could freeze to death or something like that,” Dylan Lipscomb told us as he ate. It’s freezing, and I still have a thick beard.”
Jaymes McQueen added: “I am forever grateful to these wonderful ladies for putting together a feast for Christmas.” “If they don’t come to camp and say we have a place for you at our table, I’m going nowhere. It’s going to be worse at camp, our doors are out of our huts.”
Businesses like R Pizzeria have seen increased demand as winter storms also keep families out of town. Even though the owners claim to be Muslim, it’s good for them to add their food to their customers’ Christmas dinners.
“I had a customer who came in earlier and said a lot of places were closed and we’re glad you’re all open,” said co-owner Abdulwahab Muthana. “It felt good, I don’t want to lie, to be the only one It felt good to be one of the few shops that were open because a lot of shops were closed for Christmas. People were more happy to eat and relax, and everyone left.”
Shelters like Vineyard Farm told us that because they took in people, they needed donations of new propane tanks to keep their heaters running overnight for the homeless. These can be dropped off at 126 Sander St. Rochester, New York.
Thousands of households also received the gift of restoring power today. According to RG&E, only 149 customers in Monroe County remain without power. And 154 remain in the dark in Orleans County.