2016-01-27 / Local News

White flag means shelter, warmth, food

Ledger Staff Writer

Freezing overnight temperatures have led Miracle Hill Ministries to open its 20 overflow beds this week for the homeless in Gaffney.

Miracle Hill Rescue Mission participates in the White Flag alert system used in Cherokee, Spartanburg and Greenville counties. White flags are raised outside the homeless shelter to let people know when shelters are open.

The rescue mission provides 44 beds every day — 24 for women and children and 20 beds for men. During the coldest months, 20 overflow beds provide additional comfort for homeless residents who otherwise would sleep on the street.

“It’s officially our white flag time of year,” Miracle Ministries Director Murl Lehman said. “Anytime temperatures fall under 40 degrees at night, we raise it to let those without shelter know there is a place they can find rest and warmth. We expect to have the white flag out the rest of the week.”

Those staying for the night can take a shower, sleep and wake up to a warm breakfast.

Miracle Hill Rescue Mission opened in November of 2000 as Harbor of Hope.

The name was later changed so it would be more easily identified with Miracle Hill’s network of outreach ministries. It is the largest provider of shelter and food to homeless children and adults in the Upstate.

The nonprofit agency provides housing, clothes, meals and offers counseling and spiritual support through its outreach programs. The main goal is to provide homeless people coming in the door with guidance and support.

“Sometimes they don’t know all that is here,” Lehman said. “But once they come stay and learn these things, they tend to want to stick around longer, knowing we’re also here to help them.”

Miracle Hill Ministries has seen a maximum of 11 people in its overflow beds during Lehman’s 10 years in Gaffney. Typically, Lehman said 3 to 5 people will seek shelter on nights when the White Flag alert is in effect.

No homeless person is turned away during cold weather.

“Many times when it’s really cold we keep the white flag out and extend our hours,” Lehman said. “We want people to come off the street and not freeze to death.”

Miracle Hill Rescue Mission is located at 227 Henderson St. in Gaffney. For more information, call (864) 488-0376.

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