Scorching temperatures are a health hazard to the Valley’s homeless and elderly shut-ins, and Phoenix Rescue Mission is once again mobilizing to prevent heat-related deaths and illnesses among this vulnerable, growing population.
The Mission’s Code Red: Summer Heat Relief Campaign begins May 1 and runs through Aug. 31. For the second consecutive year, Phoenix Rescue Mission will partner with several municipalities and businesses to issue a public plea for water, white socks, toiletries, cool snack packs, hats, light-colored T-shirts, sunglasses, sunscreen, chapstick, chilly neck coolers and more. Volunteers are needed to help with distribution efforts and other tasks. Monetary donations also are requested, particularly in May when the Mission qualifies for a matching grant made possible by several friends of the Phoenix Rescue Mission that ends May 31.
“Last year’s summer heat was deadly, and we need to plan now for another long stretch of extreme triple digit temperatures,” said Jay Cory, Phoenix Rescue Mission president and CEO. “It’s critical that we help homeless people on the streets. Many are battling addiction challenges, which means they are already severely dehydrated because of their substance abuse. Combine that with extreme heat and it can be fatal.”
Arizona ranks as the 4th worst state in the nation for homelessness. A startling 13,248 men, women and children are homeless in Maricopa County, according to the most recent Maricopa Association of Governments street count and point-in-time shelter data. In addition, Phoenix recently was identified in a national HUD survey as one of the few places in the U.S. where the homeless street population has actually grown by 11 percent in 2012 as compared to 2011.
Public drop-off sites for water, socks, sunscreen, hats, toiletries and other heat relief items are located throughout the Valley. For a complete list of items needed and drop-off locations, visit www.phoenixrescuemission.org.
Phoenix Rescue Mission provides Christ-centered, life-transforming solutions to persons facing hunger and homelessness. The nonprofit Mission, which has been operating since 1952, is asking the public for support of its many programs designed to save lives, including Hope Coach Street Outreach, Homeless Emergency Services, Men’s Addiction Recovery Program and the new Changing Lives Center for Women and Children. For more information, call (602) 233-3000 or visit www.phoenixrescuemission.org.