St. Peter’s By the Sea opens its doors as cold weather shelter

Since 2017, the St. Peter’s By The Sea Biscuit Brigade has cooked a warm breakfast for those using the Salvation Army’s cold weather shelter in Gulfport.

This winter, the shelter is closed for renovations, compelling the brigade to expand their resources.

When temperatures are predicted to drop below 35 degrees at night, St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church at 1909 15th Street, steps into action, transforming the parish hall into a cold weather shelter.

They have the space. All they need now are some helping hands.

“It makes you feel good on the inside. Any of us can fall down,” said volunteer Kathy McDonald … We’ve all had our bad times and needed people there to help lift us up.”

St. Peter’s is looking for volunteers to help cook, clean and keep watch over the shelter. They need help between 4 p.m. and 8 a.m. with each shift lasting four hours.

McDonald is a new volunteer and is assisting the Biscuit Brigade with breakfast.

“I get here about 4:30 to 5 a.m.,” she said. “We start cooking, we serve about 6  a.m. and once everyone finishes eating, we clean up and sweep and mop and things but that’s it. About 8 were done.”

With the Salvation Army’s Center for Hope not expected to be completed until spring — and cold nights ahead — the time to volunteer is now.

Jan Shook, who leads the Biscuit Brigade, said it’s a blessing.

“I have people comment to me about the stuff that we do at St Peter’s and I say this is my blessing. … I feel so much better when I’m able to do this.”

The church checks temperatures, requires facemasks and provides security during the night.

St. Peter’s isn’t the only shelter that will be open this weekend for those needing shelter from the freezing temperatures:

Harrison County

  • Multipurpose building behind D’Iberville Civic Center
  • Automall Parkway
  • Open Sunday starting at 4:30 p.m.

Hancock County

  • Emergency Management Agency
  • 18335 Highway 603 in Kiln
  • Open 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. Saturday through Monday
  • Call Hancock County dispatch at 228-255-9191 to arrange a ride.
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