How to help people experiencing homelessness in Lawrence during the extreme cold

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From grassroots organizations to the Lawrence Community Shelter, there are numerous ways to support those who need help as the area sees dangerously cold temperatures in the coming days.

Volunteers and supply donations are needed as Douglas County will be under a wind chill watch from 6 p.m. Friday through noon Tuesday, Jan. 16. Single-digit temperatures are in the forecast, and wind chills could be as low as -40°, according to the National Weather Service forecast as of Friday afternoon.

Here are some ways community members can help.

• Art Love Collective will host a makers session and donation drive Saturday in support of people experiencing homelessness.

Blankets, hats and scarves made during the event will be donated to the Lawrence Community Shelter as well the popup shelter at the Santa Fe Depot. People can also bring blankets, hats, gloves, scarfs, coats, socks, underwear, sweatpants, hand warmers and other resources with them to donate.

Haskell Indian Nations University has provided sewing machines for the event, according to Art Love Collective owner Taylor Overton. Overton said fabric donations, preferably fleece materials, are still needed and can be dropped off at the building.

Community members are invited to the event scheduled for noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 13 at Art Love Collective, 646 Vermont St. It’s free to attend. Learn more on the Facebook event page.

• The Jax Project, a local advocacy organization, is asking community members to put all hands on deck this weekend.

Trina Tinsley and her son, Jax, founded the organization to support people experiencing homelessness in Lawrence. The Jax Project regularly serves Sunday dinners at the North Lawrence campsite and partners with several advocacy groups and individuals to connect with people and help fill their needs.

With people living outside in extreme cold temperatures that are forecast to continue for days, Lawrence is in an urgent situation, Tinsley said.

“Put your personal feelings aside,” she said. “These are human beings. Regardless of their life choices, it’s still deadly to be out there.”


The Jax Project was able to deliver 37 propane tanks on Tuesday for people to fuel heat near their tents, Tinsley said. Over the past several days, volunteers with the organization have gone to camps to check on people and encourage them to shelter.

Tinsley said the Jax Project can serve as a bridge between community members wanting to get involved and local efforts offering opportunities. Folks can directly message the Jax Project on its Facebook page to volunteer with the organization or for help getting in contact with other advocates.

• Ecumenical Campus Ministries will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday through Tuesday, or longer if the cold lingers, director David Cooper said via email Friday. ECM, at 1204 Oread Ave., will be serving breakfast, lunch and coffee; they have free WiFi, and they’re offering showers on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Folks have asked for gloves; AA, AAA and D batteries; large tarps; socks; hats; HotHands warmers for hands and feet; blankets; big coats; carbon monoxide detectors; power banks (solar powered, if possible); tents; hatchets; propane; firewood; water; and towels. 

“People are also welcome to donate food and drinks,” Cooper said. Donate cash to ECM via Venmo, @ecmatkudonate. 

• Lawrence Community Shelter, City of Lawrence: The shelter and the city are offering overnight shelter for all who need it during the extreme cold at LCS, 3655 E. 25th St., and the Santa Fe Depot, 413 E. Seventh St. Read more about that and how to sign up to volunteer at the train station at this link

Those who are interested in volunteering at the emergency shelter at LCS can sign up at or contact the LCS volunteer program manager, Mercedes Roland, at

At the Amtrak station, the city is accepting snacks such as Chex Mix, protein bars, candy, peanut butter to go, fruit snacks, dried fruit, cookies, Little Debbie snacks, Lunchables, pretzels, trail mix, beef sticks, Goldfish, crackers, beef jerky and Uncrustables, according to a flyer. They’re also accepting books and magazines. 


Cori Wallace, a spokesperson for the city, provided this list of supplies the shelter needs. One urgent need noted on the list is for plus size coats. (Click here to open the list in a new window.)


LCS also has an Amazon wishlist at this link.

First United Methodist Church, 946 Vermont St., 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.

Sign up to volunteer at the church at this link. All volunteers should enter through the far south door of the church, which will open nightly at 5:55 p.m.

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. See the city’s new website,, for more information.

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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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Severe weather resources

National Weather Service local office (Topeka):
 Find the latest weather forecast info and severe weather advisories for the Lawrence area at this link.

In the event of rapidly changing severe weather, such as tornadoes, the NWS posts frequent updates on Twitter, @NWSTopeka. You do not need a Twitter account to see tweets from NWS.

NWS is also on Facebook,

 Call 785-234-2592 to hear the forecast.

Douglas County Emergency Management:
Follow @DgCoEM on Twitter or Douglas County, KS- Emergency Management on Facebook,

Sign up to receive emergency alerts at

Find lots of tips on severe weather and other emergency preparedness on DgCoEM’s website at

Report storm damage (for non-emergencies only, and after storm danger has passed) via this form.

Evergy outages:
Check the status of power outages on the Evergy outage map,

Report a power outage at, or call 800-544-4857.

City of Lawrence snow info:
The city has snow information and a map at that shows information about road conditions and snow plow locations. The city typically begins snow and ice control for residential roadways when 2 or more inches of snowfall or icing occurs.

Air quality:
Check the current air quality index in Lawrence and elsewhere through AirNow,

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