C.O. shelters see drop-off in donations after holidays

But cold winter months are hardest on homeless

POSTED: 7:51 PM PST December 31, 2012 
BEND, Ore. -

As the holiday season winds down, so does the season of giving. It is a problem for Bend shelters, officials said Monday, as January marks the beginning of the hardest time of year for the homeless.

"We operate as the area's severe weather shelter," said Bethlehem Inn Executive Director Gwenn Wysling.  "So when it gets this cold, when it drops below 28, if that's not cold enough for you, we are able to serve as a shelter and open up our kitchen area, our lounges and things like that, to help make sure there is a place for folks to come stay at."

Wysling said the shelter is now just below capacity for normal operations, but she does expect it will quickly fill up in coming days.

"It's the holidays, so there are a lot of people who have been able to make that connection, get back in touch with their families," she said. Now that the holidays are over it might not be working out as well."

Wysling and The Shepherd's House spokesman Curt Floski said they each received significant support this holiday season. Floski said 50% of his operating budget comes in October, November and December.

But often, the shelter is busiest from January until spring.

Wysling says it during the coldest months of the year when Bethlehem Inn often sees a drop in donations.

"It's slowed down a little bit already, and we are looking for that kind of support year round. We serve dinners not just on Christmas, not just on Thanksgiving, 365 days a year."

So if you want to extend your giving past the holidays---you've still got time--and a maybe a jump start on next year's tax deductions.

www.bethleheminn.org and www.myshepherdshouse.org