The Salvation Army of La Crosse County is offering its warming service again this winter, now with more structure.
This year, organizers are looking to separate the shelter and the warming service.
The shelter has 62 beds for residents and the Salvation Army will continue to accept new residents that meet the criteria.
“If you show up and you are looking for shelter, looking to check-in and be assigned a locker and a bed and a case manager, then that is what you will have,” said Krista Coey, director of social services for Salvation Army La Crosse County.
However, the Salvation Army also provides a warm place for those who aren’t interested in becoming a resident.
“If you just want to come in and warm up and you want a warm place to stay, then we have the warming service,” Coey said.
Salvation Army says they are often full with people and work together with the other local warming center, Catholic Charities.
“With opening up a warming service separate from the shelter, we will be able to accommodate for more people,” Coey said.
The warming service is always available in the entryway of the shelter. There is a love seat, an intake window and access to a public phone.
Toiletries and food is also made available for those in need.
Between 10 p.m. and 7:30 a.m. entry beyond the vestibule and lobby is off limits to provide order for its residents.
The Salvation Army says that as it gets colder or overcrowded, they’ll open up more space as needed.
“There is a safe place where they know we’re not going to turn you away, you need to come back in, don’t take the chance…especially if we have weather like we did last year,” said Coey.
As temperatures drop, the accommodations the Salvation Army offers through the warming service increases– including access to the gym at night and its overflow beds.
The new structure for the service has one main goal, according to organizers.
“To meet the needs of the most individuals as we possibly can, while keeping organization and a sense of calm,” said Coey.
The Salvation Army says they are always in need of volunteers and any donations people may have.