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Virginia Beach homeless can get out of the cold at ministry's Winter Shelter

The Virginia Beach Winter Shelter Program is back open after it was forced to cancel last year due to the pandemic.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The cooler temperatures are here, and a Virginia Beach ministry is helping homeless people get out of the cold by restarting its Winter Shelter program.

PiN Ministry officials have placed 60 air mattresses inside the Church of the Ascension Community Center to help people who need a warm place to stay.

“For us, this is part of our ministry, is bringing people together and seeing them healed," said the ministry's Executive Director, Dallas Stamper. 

Stamper said he’s expecting a lot of people to seek help on the first night of Winter Shelter.

“We had 55 people preregister," he said. 

He said the pandemic forced the ministry to cancel the program last year.

“That’s been very difficult for our homeless population because it took a long time to get them to a point where they would open up with us," Stamper explained. "Then we had to say, 'Go away,' and so we’re trying to reopen and reengage people in that process."

Stamper said each guest must wear a mask inside the sleeping area -- but, they don't have to sleep with them on.  

PiN Ministry officials have divided the space for women and men. 

“The men will be here sleeping at night, lights out by 10 o'clock, and waking call at 6 so we can get them breakfast," Stamper explained while showing the facility. 

Ruth Brogan with Ascension Catholic Church said the ministry won't be short on food or volunteers.

“We have about a hundred volunteers that come in and tonight or tomorrow night, they’ll be maybe 25 or 30 who are here not only cooking but serving and interacting. People want to help others," said Brogan. 

PiN Ministry’s Winter Shelter program moves next week to a new church in Virginia Beach.

The Winter Shelter program lasts about 14 to 18 weeks. It's operated by the People in Need ministry that partners with the City of Virginia Beach and area churches. 

Anyone who wants to stay at the shelter must register at their office on Millers Lane in Virginia Beach.

Officials also said they'll need help with funding the program in the future.

They said the money they raise for “Giving Tuesday” will go to the Winter Shelter Program.