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The Salvation Army Reaches Out, Will The Homeless Accept?

Well, it was cold last night and it will stay very cold until about Friday. Sub-zero wind chills and snow make it miserable out on the streets and of course deadly. That’s why the Salvation Army is reaching out to the 300 or so homeless in Lubbock, but will the homeless accept the help? If history is any indication, the answer is no. This morning while I was on the air, a friend posted a picture on Facebook showing a bunch of tents in downtown Lubbock. Last night, the Salvation Army opened it’s doors to those on the streets and those with no heat, but apparently some of Lubbock’s homeless decided that sleeping in a tent was a better idea.

In fact, according to the Salvation Army, only 75 people accepted shelter last night. 75. Think about that. Only 75 of Lubbock’s 302 homeless accepted shelter and that’s assuming all 75 were actually homeless. Those who chose to sleep in tents last night had the option of going somewhere warm, but declined. They didn’t want help and they are choosing to live the way they are. Yes, it’s sad but it’s their choice.

Here is a press release from the Salvation Army:

LUBBOCK, TX (February 1, 2011)- With cold weather creating dangerous conditions this week, The Salvation Army will reach out to individuals staying on the streets and those without heat to make sure all have are sheltered from the cold.

On Monday night, The Salvation Army housed 75 individuals and expects to house more as the weather gets worse. These individuals will be allowed to stay at the shelter during the day this week. Residents will be fed three meals a day and will have access to TV, board games and cards.

Tuesday through Thursday this week, The Salvation Army will hit the streets through its Survive the Night program to provide hot meals, warm clothing items and blankets to individuals who choose to stay on the streets despite the weather. The Salvation Army will seek these individuals out in the hope of bringing them into the shelter and out of the cold.

The Salvation Army will extend these programs as needed through the weekend.

Good job Salvation Army, and thank you for being out there. Unfortunately, not enough people will take advantage of what the Salvation Army is doing. They will choose to live by their own rules and sleep on the streets.

We can almost view this as an experiment. Will the homeless accept help from a shelter? The conditions are the worst they’ve ever been and still last night only 75 people wanted help. Were all 75 homeless? We don’t know. The release said that those with no heat would also be helped.

So what happens if the Salvation Army reaches out to the homeless and their help isn’t accepted? History shows that will happen, so what should we do? My friend Ryan Hyatt was right on Twitter when he said “Result should be end of the discussion and no more time or $ wasted on it.”

He’s right. Sure, the Salvation Army should keep doing their job. Yes, if you have a heart for the homeless then keep donating your time. However, we should stop talking about building a new shelter. Why build something new for people who won’t use it?

I think it’s time we be honest and face the cold truth. Some people don’t want to be helped. Some people want to live by their own rules and live on the streets. Some people are beyond help.

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