The cold weather has been significantly impacting the lives of Erie’s homeless population, and shelters are saying that they’ve seen an increase in services.      

The Upper Room of Erie helps over 45,000 homeless people every year and hosted its annual Blizzard of Blankets event on Saturday. In a time when our region has been getting hit hard by winter weather, it goes to show how important it is to be warm and safe.

It’s one of the largest coat and blanket drives in the City of Erie, running strong for 27 years.

The Upper Room, located at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, has recognized a need for winter necessities this time of year and is looking to help people in the Erie community.

“There’s a lot of homeless people in Erie, probably more than we’ve seen in recent years. The advantage is that right now, the need is the greatest that we’ve seen. We’ve been buying and getting from donations that we’ve received, handing out blankets and coats already, boots, winter hats, gloves for the last two weeks,” said Chris Taylor, director, Upper Room of Erie.

Roughly, three dozen volunteers helped to organize donated items into three rooms filled from wall to wall and floor to ceiling with coats and blankets. One board member said that this should be enough supplies for the nonprofit to get through to next winter.

“This is one of the coldest years that we’ve actually done this, as far as on the day of the event, so it’s a pretty clear example of what the need is. Oftentimes in November, we’re still having a little bit better of weather, so today’s as good of a day as it can be to show the need is,” said Chuck Nelson, board member and pastor. “The staff is organizing it and this should be enough supplies to get us all the way through next winter.”

Blankets and other items will be distributed when requested by individuals in need all throughout the winter season free of charge.

With the weather turning for the worse these past few weeks, the Upper Room said that it is important to keep every community member in need as safe and as warm as possible.