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Sunnyside's homeless will have shelter this winter

Through the hard work of Sunnyside's Joe and Elizabeth Knowles and Dave Hansen, executive director of Sunrise Outreach Center in Yakima, there will be two extreme cold weather shelters in Sunnyside this winter season.

The shelters will open Nov. 15 and close on March 1. Elizabeth Knowles, the director for Sunrise Outreach Center's Lower Valley operations, said if the nighttime temperature drops below freezing for a number of consecutive nights the shelters could open even earlier.

She said the shelters are something the Knowles have been hoping would be implemented in Sunnyside. Last year Hansen came to the Knowles' church and gave a presentation about the shelters.

"We decided to open a cold weather shelter," she said.

Although one was open in 2009 there weren't many guests.

"This year we're hoping to get the word out early to let people know," she said.

The men's shelter will be at First Christian Church in Sunnyside, located at Eighth Street and Decatur Avenue. The women's and children's shelter will be located at the Free Methodist Church, which is at 11th Street and Lincoln Avenue.

Knowles said each shelter will house 15 people. The sign-in times will be from 6 to 6:30 p.m. Guests must leave the shelters after breakfast is served at 6:30 a.m.

Knowles said both churches are donating the space and local businesses are donating food. The plan, Knowles said, is to serve a hot meal every night and breakfast in the morning.

Knowles said she is in need of volunteers for the shelters. Those interested can call her at 831-3287. Knowles is also looking for volunteers for the Sandwich Ministry, a group that delivers sandwiches every Tuesday night to the homeless in Sunnyside. In October the Sandwich Ministry will add soup, as well.

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