The wind chill in the Cape Fear region felt like 6 degrees Tuesday morning.
Can you imagine trying to sleep, live, eat outside in single digit temperatures? It's a stark reality for many without shelter or those living in poverty in our area, but one man decided to bring warmth to those braving the cold.
Randy Evans with Walking Tall Wilmington is not only providing a warm meal, but he is also allowing strangers who would normally be exposed to frigid temps into his home.
It's not a five-star hotel, and Evans is not a five-star chef, but the temperature in his house is a toasty 68 degrees.
"A lot of people don't open their homes, so when Randy said, 'I am going to do a shelter,' well, he normally gets a building and couldn't so he said, 'I am bringing people to my home,'" said Theresa Cozzone.
The comfort of a cozy home brought Cozzone to tears Tuesday. If it weren't for Evans, she would be braving the bone-chilling temps on the street.
"Within every person, there is a level of decency, and I don't think that sharing a meal with someone or giving them heat or healthcare spawns self-satisfaction. It is just something as human beings we should do," Evans said.
It's like a big sleepover. They share blankets, towels, and warm meals paired with good conversation, a blessing for William Staton, who just got out of jail and was previously living in a tent.
"It had gotten so cold out, my whole body was shaking," Staton said. "Some of us are in a rut in life. We all have stumbling blocks."
Evans tried to find a place to open an emergency shelter but ran out of time before the arctic air blew in, so he said his home would serve that purpose.
Switchin' Gears on Chestnut Street in Wilmington does have a shelter, but it can only hold up to 25 people. Evans had 13 people Monday night and expects more through the week. He will keep bringing people into his home until Saturday.
"Caring for each other is what we do. When someone is down, you lift them up," said Evans.
Just as the sign in his living room states: "The more you give, the more you live," a motto many in this room are so thankful for under these brutally cold conditions.
"I am very grateful for Randy. He has opened up his house to us and he has opened up his heart," Staton said.
In addition, the Good Shepard Center is also housing those without shelter. They can house up to 118 people and said they have seen a 20 percent increase in people coming in since the cold snap.
The Salvation Army is also making things easier for those in need of shelter.
Major Mark Craddock said they are opening more beds in their emergency shelter, and lower some of the barriers for those entering the shelter. To get into the Salvation Army, you are required to have a valid ID and no prior instances of violent crimes.
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