Good Samaritans bring some extra warmth to city warming centers

CLEVELAND - People escaping the bitter cold at warming centers across Cleveland are finding more than just a place to keep their bodies warm. Some good Samaritans are looking to warm the hearts of those inside too.

"We're just doing what God is calling us to do," said Yessenia Morales, co-founder of Backpacks of Love. "We're just being obedient."

Morales, along with co-founder Jessica McCalpine, trekked through the snow-covered parking lot at the Michael Zone Recreation Center, with 100 drawstring bags filled with hats, hygiene supplies and another 100 bags of sandwiches to give to those in need.

"Someone has to be God's hands and feet out here," said McCalpine. "We have to be out here to help the people that can't help themselves at this time."

Four warming centers have remained open the majority of this holiday week, as temperatures took a dive and brought bone numbing single-digit wind chills. Mark Thornton says without places to stay warm, he and many others could die. A grim fact, at least for the moment, he no longer dwells on.

"I was walking up and down Lorain and I was freezing. The fluid was building up in my back and I came here and I laid down, been warm ever since," said Thornton. "I've met some nice people and I've eaten good."

An additional room was opened at one warming center to accommodate the number of people trying to escape the cold. As of Saturday city officials say the centers will remain open the next 48 hours.