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Volunteers help homeless prepare for dangerously cold temps

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CHICAGO — The extreme drop in temperatures can be quite dangerous, and potentially life-threatening, especially for the city's most vulnerable population.

Volunteers from Chi Gives Back were near Roosevelt Road and Des Plaines Avenue Monday evening to provide food, blankets and propane tanks to people in need.

"We live in the United States of America," Jermeka Holmes, a volunteer, said. "The homeless problem should not be to this magnitude."

Jermaine Nelson has lived in a tent city in the suburb for the past five months. He said it's not easy, but the help of the volunteers is making it possible.

Volunteers are also reminding people that a warming center and homeless shelter not far away, even though they know many will choose to stay out in the cold. Warming centers are open and available to those experiencing homelessness throughout Cook County.


"This is what they have, where they have their freedom," one volunteer said. "It's not for us to judge them, but for us to make sure that they're OK."

There was one couple, who did not want to speak on camera, who did not even have a tent. They only had the blankets provided to them by the volunteers.

Volunteers said they will check up on them again on Tuesday.

Last year, more than 5,400 people in Chicago were living on the streets or in shelters. However, advocates say the number is much higher, with not enough help for the mentally ill for for anyone living out on the streets.

Anyone in need of assistance should call the city's 311 system.

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