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This is a tough time of the year for the homeless and others down on their luck.
The temperatures are declining, and it's difficult to feel warm and cozy inside when the outside is cold, when clothing isn't adequate for protection from the elements.
It isn't only a jacket or a coat that warms the body. Food is integral to warmth.
Without these and other necessities, it isn't only the temperature that's cold. It's life.
Not all are blessed with basic comforts. It's a struggle for some people to keep a roof over their heads and food on their tables, to buy bus passes or fill the gas tanks of their used and hopefully mostly reliable motor vehicle, to fill prescriptions and to pay their fuel, electric, water and other utilities bills.
With winter and the holidays coming, it's important to not only be aware of the need, but to be willing to support the helping organizations available.
Four services pre-eminent among a variety available include:
• First City Homeless Services' Day Shelter, located at the First United Methodist Church, 400 Main St.
The shelter serves the homeless, the marginally housed and transient individuals and families — between 17 and 26 men, women and children daily on average. In addition to shelter during the day, its staff assists its customers in finding temporary/permanent housing and jobs, and directs them to other sources that might be helpful, too.
• Ketchikan Homeless Shelter is located at 628 Park Ave. It offers overnight shelter for many of the same folks who take advantage of the Methodist shelter during the day.
• The Salvation Army, located at 342 Stedman St., also has a thrift store located at 305 Stedman. Between the two, people can get out of the cold for a hot lunch and buy reasonably priced clothing and other household items.
The Salvation Army serves throughout the year, but during the holidays provides special meals to those in need, whether at The Salvation Army's soup kitchen or in people's homes. It also assists with Christmas gifts for children and families who cannot afford them.
• Love INC is a partnership of nearly 20 churches, including the Methodist Church and The Salvation Army, which helps individuals and families in need.
Love INC assists with everything from groceries to housing, fuel, utilities, transportation, you name it. It even has volunteers to help with special projects. Churches direct much of their charity through Love INC, allowing for one center to ascertain need and provide assistance.
All of these organizations will be feeling the demand on their services more acutely than in the warmer months.
As those who are blessed with life's necessities start planning for Thanksgiving and Christmas — what to cook for festive meals and who to present gifts — a thought or two for friends and neighbors who aren't as financially fortunate is more than appropriate. It's what human beings do.
Ketchikan is a generous community. Time and again it has helped those struggling to survive. That help is always appreciated, especially during the winter and in the holiday season.