Cold-weather shelters open for Christmas Eve - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Cold-weather shelters open for Christmas Eve

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NEW ORLEANS - On a chilly Christmas Eve, people lined up for a hot meal at the New Orleans Mission.

Turkey, dressing, and all the fixings - more than 150 meals prepared and donated by Jonathan Thurman and his family.

"It just gives me a whole good feeling right here," Thurman said. "This is going to start me off to a good 2014 and I don't want nothing in return, it just makes me feel good."

The family from Belle Chasse also collected dozens of blankets, unloading bags of them as the temperature dropped.

Workers and volunteers at the Mission spent the day putting together bags of toiletries and preparing for the cold night ahead.

The city activated its freeze plan, opening shelters for those with nowhere else to stay.

"About 250 to 300 people we probably can house here, and whatever we can do, all that comes we'll try to make room for," said Mission Director Ronell Williams.

A warm place to sleep made all the difference for one woman who first found shelter at the Mission six months ago. Kendria Bates said she has a lot to celebrate.

"This is the first Christmas I've actually been clean, so this really feels good," she said.

The new year will bring more women's programs to the mission. The shelter plans to double the number of beds and provide more services for women hoping to get back on their feet. Bates is one of them.

The Mission will hold church services for the holiday, and as people sought shelter on a cold Christmas Eve, pastor Ronell Williams said it reminded him of that Christmas story from so long ago.

"He went to the inn and they didn't have room for him, but as they went to the barn, they made room for him that the son of God may be born," Williams said.

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