Cold sends homeless to New Orleans Mission Christmas night

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wwltv.com

Posted on December 25, 2013 at 11:28 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 25 at 11:40 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- Hundreds sought refuge from the cold on Christmas at the New Orleans Mission and other shelters.

Their doors remained open thanks to an army of volunteers.

"For tonight its a cold night. Anyone can come in. Men, women," said Luis Rodriguez with the New Orleans Mission.

As temperatures dipped into the 30s, a long line of people waited patiently for a warm bed inside the facility on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard.

"I was homeless, living on the street and a good friend of mine came and brought me to the mission," said April Johnson, who is originally from Kenner.

The 39-year-old never imagined she'd be spending Christmas inside the Mission's Women's Center. Johnson has been off the streets for a month now, enrolled in a special program. She is trying to turn her life around.

"Since I've been here, everything has been lifting me up with the Lord and I'm glad," said Johnson.

The sense of relief is shared by others who checked into the shelter for the night knowing a hot meal is being served by staff and volunteers.

"Although a lot of them aren't able to be with their family just like me, we become each other's family and try and love each other and encourage one another," said Rodriguez.

According to the Mission, about 100 volunteers help there every week and Christmas was no exception for those wanting to give back.

"I care about people and if they need me to serve, I wanna serve," said Harahan resident Angela Toc.

She was joined by Chris Leboeuf, who was representing Fellowship Bible Church volunteers.

"Its something we enjoy doing as a group at our church and it make us feel good and we like helping out," Leboeuf said.

The city of New Orleans enacted its freeze plan for a second night on Wednesday. Four shelters were open to take in the homeless free of charge. They included the Mission, Salvation Army, the Ozanam Inn and Covenant House.

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