Dip in donations after the Holidays leaves KARM struggling

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Knoxville (WVLT) - A record number of area homeless are expected to come in from the cold Wednesday night.

The white flag outside KARM, signaling extreme temperatures, has been out all day.

WVLT Volunteer TV's Liz Tedone has the details.

More than 400 homeless are inside keeping warm at Knox Area Rescue Ministries. Donations tend to dip just after the Holidays, leaving KARM to pick up the slack so no one gets turned away.

Outside, braving the cold and just feet away are a hot meal and a warm bed.

"Those who may have been, who may have tended to want to try and brave it last night even though they shouldn't have, will probably want to come inside tonight. I expect we'll see somewhere around 415, 420 people," said Burt Rosen from KARM.

No one, who's willing to come in and follow the rules will be turned away.

"I have read in some cities where they've had to turn people away because they simply did not have enough food to serve people coming through the door. We work very hard not to ever have that happen to us. Thus far, we've been fortunate," Rosen said.

KARM serves more than 1,500 meals a day during it's busy season, but the busy season has been ongoing for almost six months now. Normally in the slower months like June, July and August, KARM's numbers are down.

"That gives us a little bit of respite to prepare ourselves for fall and winter. We didn't get that break this year so we're still serving 30,000 meals back in July and August," Rosen said.

The heat wave of 2007 soaked up any extra cash flow. Now with the Holidays over, and giving naturally slower, the ministry feels the pinch. There's a strong need for blankets and towels and monetary donations.

"We fed 480 people for breakfast the other morning, at about a dollar thirty a meal. It's very hard for someone to go out and buy something that would rival that kind of a price," Rosen said.

You can donate to KARM by calling 673-6450.

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