Group provides heat relief for homeless as summer nears - Tucson News Now

Group provides heat relief for homeless as summer nears

Source: KOLD Source: KOLD
Source: KOLD Source: KOLD
Source: KOLD Source: KOLD
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

They are simple steps for survival in the sun, from people whose lives aren’t all that simplistic.

"[You] look for water, food, and what not. Yeah, that's about it,” Kenneth Wells said.

He is one of Tucson’s homeless. It's a group of 1,765 people living in either un-sheltered situations, in temporary housing, or other emergency shelters, according to the city of Tucson's 2016 Homeless Street Count.

With temperatures rising in southern Arizona, helping the homeless is more crucial than ever. It's why from June 1 to Aug. 31 the Salvation Army will initiate "Operation Chill Out" to provide relief every time the heat rises to 102 degrees or above. 

According to a news release, Salvation Army staff and volunteers will be at De Anza Park at Speedway Boulevard and North Stone Avenue, as well as Santa Rita Park at 22nd Street and Fourth Avenue, handing out bottled water, sunscreen, hats and umbrellas.

The organization already needs your help getting in on the action. They are taking donations at The Salvation Army Hospitality House at 1002 N. Main Avenue, collecting bottled water, sunscreen, lip balm, hats, umbrellas, sunglasses and light-colored clothing.

But some private groups are starting early with the assistance, as the summer-like heat has already arrived.

People like Daniel Caruthers are used to needing to stay safe in the scolding southern Arizona sun.

"I'm a native. I'm used to it. I've been on the street since I was 5 years old," the homeless 55-year-old said. "That's why I wear a hat, and glasses, and long sleeves, and I keep hydrated."

Caruthers may be the outlier, having come well-prepared to Santa Rita Park on Tucson's south side. Dozens of homeless men and women showed up without much to their name.

Members of the Faith Assembly of God Church spent the day helping out.

"This basically is just a bunch of us in church putting a little bit here, a little bit there," said David Ruperto Velez with the Faith Assembly of God Church at 335 E. Elvado Road. "Maybe we might not have struggled the way that they have, or to that extent. But I think we all understand struggle, to a certain extent."

They provided free health screenings, food, water, and a place to relax with music.

"You can see that they're dehydrated, in a lot of cases. When they're doing the health screens, a lot of them couldn't even be punctured for the little blood sugar check," he said. "That'll get obviously worse as the summer progresses."

It's why Velez was there with his fellow volunteers, working to make Caruthers' day a little more joyful.

"It's wonderful," Caruthers said. "It helps the people that are actually on the street to seek help, medical attention, and get on with their lives."

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