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Warming Center Opens

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With temperatures in the single digits throughout the Sioux Empire, it’s especially difficult for those who don’t have any shelter. Sunday, several are taking advantage of the Salvation Army’s Warming Shelter in Sioux Falls.

"I would be sleeping out on the streets and this time of year. That's not a good place to be," said Ricky Thomas.

Ricky Thomas is one of many in the Sioux Empire who is homeless. Although, he says it's only temporary, on Sunday night he's making his bed, knowing he doesn't have to sleep outside.

"It’s not only warm but safe. I feel that's very important. Rather than staying out in the streets in the cold cause it's hard to say what can happen out there," said Ricky.

Ricky says he is expecting some money so he can return home to western South Dakota. Until then, he plans on making the Salvation Army's Warming Center his home.

"I think this is a real opportunity for someone to take advantage and at least give them time to try to get back on their feet and get going again," said Thomas.

And Ricky isn't alone. Dozens have headed to the gym for the night. They're given a cot, a blanket and offered something to eat and drink. They are even offered a tv.

"Imagine all the stuff you would miss if you didn't have a place to keep it all. Everything they own they have to carry on their back,” said warming shelter attendant, Darlos Cook.

Even if it's only for a night, it keeps them safe from whatever haunts them in the dark.

"They're looking around 24 hours a day for a place they can stop in. It’s where someone won't call the police at the or yell at them," said Cook.

For some it’s a warm blanket or a place to put up their feet. But for others, it’s knowing that others care for them when they’re left out in the cold.

"If anything it's shown me that there's people out here in the community who cares," said Thomas.

The Salvation Army says they will see up to 80 people any given night use their facility during the winter. The Salvation Army Warming Center, located on North Cliff Avenue in Sioux Falls, is open from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. It's open seven nights a week until April.

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