LAKEWOOD, Ohio — Just as we can count on the cold weather to grip us for much of the week, we can also count on people to step up and do good.
Outside the United Methodist Church in Lakewood, there are now hats, scarves, blankets, and gloves, all free. The community that sees itself as "a church without walls" has formed "a warming wall."
"Every time I go up there, lots of items are gone," Pastor Laura Jaissle told 3News, adding that the wall went up on Wednesday. "Obviously, it’s being used.
"First night we had like three for four blankets out in sealed bags and they were gone the next morning. I was shocked at how much was gone. I figured that everything I put out the first day would last all weekend, and clearly, it didn’t."
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Across the county, tens of millions of people are now dealing with a dangerous mix of snow and cold. The wind chill is so low that in some places it looks like a typo.
In Ohio, Holly Jackson is doing what she can to warm that cold--with love.
"The need has quadrupled at minimum throughout this pandemic," she said.
Left homeless after escaping an abusive relationship, Jackson knows all too well about the stigma that can come with asking for help. Three years ago she launched the nonprofit "Walls of Love," a collection of pop-up walls holding free items people need. There are permanent walls in Cleveland, Elyria, and Lorain.
"Kindness goes a long way," Jackson said. "We’re all just a little bit away from needing help or being in a very bad situation."
There are other services, too. On Sunday, four warming centers opened at community centers in Akron. Visitors were subjected to temperature checks, social distancing, and required to wear masks.
In Cuyahoga County, a spokesperson said anyone who needs a bed will have one, and this year, there is space at four shelters so guests can be spaced apart.