City of Lawrence to keep Santa Fe Depot open for shelter through extreme cold snap; volunteers needed

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The City of Lawrence plans to keep the Amtrak station in East Lawrence open 24 hours a day through the extreme cold temperatures and wind chills the area will see over the next few days.

The city will accept walk-ins at the depot. Up to 40 people can stay there, and guests do not need to be referred by the Lawrence Community Shelter, according to a city news release Friday morning.

Douglas County will be under a wind chill watch from Friday evening through Tuesday morning. Single-digit temperatures are in the forecast, and wind chills could be as low as -35°, according to the National Weather Service forecast as of Friday morning.

The depot will be open for warming “through the end of this extremely cold weather,” according to the release. It will primarily be staffed by city employees who usually work at the North Lawrence camp.

Maya Hodison/Lawrence Times Santa Fe Depot/Amtrak station, 413 E. Seventh St.

The city is seeking volunteers ages 18 and up to take four- and eight-hour shifts at the train station, 413 E. Seventh St., to make sure it’s appropriately staffed.

“These volunteers will have support from the City of Lawrence and will help greet and serve individuals that are in need of shelter from the extreme cold weather,” according to the signup website. “These volunteers will be helping and interacting with all members of our community; many whom are in the midst of significant physical, mental and emotional struggles. These volunteers will be present to compassionately address immediate needs and provide a warm drink and snack.”

Online signups through the United Way were open for shifts through 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 17; however, the website notes that email communication will be important “as needs may change due to weather.”

Find more information, view shifts or sign up at this link.

The Lawrence Community Shelter, 3655 E. 25th St., is also available to stay warm overnight. It can accommodate pets for anyone seeking overnight shelter; however, pets cannot stay at the Amtrak station.

LCS can be reached by the Route 1 bus from downtown. It leaves the stop at Seventh and Vermont streets starting at 6 a.m., and the last downtown stop is at 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. See the full route and schedule at this link. Buses are free to ride for 2024.

The shelter is also seeking volunteer support.

“Extra hands make a difference. If you can spare some time, we’d greatly appreciate your help!” Lacee Roe, director of community engagement for LCS, wrote in an email to supporters on Thursday. “Whether it’s assisting with shelter operations, distributing essentials, or providing a warm welcome, your support matters.”

Those who are interested can sign up to volunteer at

If you or someone you know needs help to find indoor shelter or get transportation, contact city staff members Misty Bosch-Hastings at 785-760-1481 or Cicely Thornton at 785-813-9483.

First United Methodist Church is opening a volunteer-run emergency shelter as the primary overflow shelter when the Lawrence Community Shelter hits capacity. It will open Friday evening for up to 25 people, but it will shelter people referred by LCS only.

The Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center homeless outreach team is also providing vouchers for people with severe and persistent mental illness who are unable to stay at LCS.

Read more about how to help at this link.

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