Chattanooga Salvation Army opens overnight shelter

The Salvation Army's overnight shelter is on McCallie Avenue. Friday night, people lined up out the door to get a place inside. (Image: WTVC)

Temperatures will drop below freezing overnight Friday, and the Salvation Army opens its doors to homeless people in Chattanooga. Thursday and Friday, it opened an overnight shelter.

Zachary Lowman is homeless and helped sign people into the shelter. He says there's a lot of people who need to get out of the cold.

"If you're sitting around out there - you go numb," said Zachary Lowman.

People like Ben Markum understand that struggle.

"Last night I tried to stay outside and it was so cold - I got an hour of sleep and I walked about for literally eight hours," said Ben Markum. "And I was exhausted."

Tonight - with an assigned cot - things will be a lot warmer for Markum and more than two dozen others. He has a message for people in the community.

"Have compassion," said Markum. "There's a time when I had a house, had a car and I never was cold or hungry."

But now cold and hungry - make up his reality. That's why Markum is thankful for the shelter. Once people sign in, the are night allowed to leave until 7 am the next day. They're provided with blankets, hot drinks and food.

"This is a lifesaver tonight," said Ben Markum.

The Salvation Army wasn't the only group looking out for the homeless population. Faithful of the Father's House at St. Michael's Church handed out "blessing bags" in Miller Plaza. Those bags were filled with socks, hand-warmers, food and drinks.

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