The deep freeze in Chicago has proved especially gruelling for the city’s homeless population, with dangerously low temperatures putting them at serious risk.
A group of 70 homeless citizens had been camping out in tents close to Chicago’s University Village, without any source of heat in the 22 degrees below zero conditions. The prospect of sleeping in flimsy tents – nestled among piles of snow – is near unimaginable to those lucky enough to have a warm bed of their own.
Members of the group had originally been using over one hundred donated propane tanks in a desperate bid to keep warm in the icy winds. But when one exploded, Chicago Fire Department chief Walter Schroder instructed them to cease using them, aware that the number of tanks could lead to an explosion comparable to ‘a bomb going off’.
While the fire department removed the tanks from the campsite, the Salvation Army made plans to transport the group to a warming centre. However, an incredible gesture from an anonymous individual led to a change in plans.
As reported by the Chicago Tribune, it was the second coldest day in the history of Chicago when a Good Samaritan offered to put up approximately 70 homeless people in a hotel.
Incredibly, the mysterious donor offered to pick up the bill for the whole week, not just one night; ensuring the group had a few days to keep out of the snow.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Salvation Army spokeswoman, Jacqueline Rachev, has made the following thankful statement:
We think it’s wonderful that there’s somebody out there that has decided to be so kind to provide a warm place and a safe place for these folks to go,
We’re thrilled they’re safe and warm at least for a few days.
According to Rachev, the hotel was located somewhere on Chicago’s South Side although the exact location remains unknown. Only one member from the group reportedly opted to head to the warming shelter rather than the hotel.
Thanks to this benevolent stranger, dozens of people who would otherwise have been vulnerable to the life-threatening cold were given somewhere safe and warm to sleep. A potentially life saving gesture.
— A. C. Quintero (@klasekastellano) January 29, 2019
— Ozlem Par Okutkan (@ozlemparokutkan) January 30, 2019
As the extreme freeze took hold of the Windy City, shelter officials had urged homeless citizens to take cover at homeless shelters, however this particular group had remained at the makeshift campsite.
Tony Neeley, a homeless man from Chicago, explained his own wariness of homeless shelters, despite the perilous weather, to The New York Times:
You don’t understand,
A lot of us don’t go to the shelters because of bedbugs, we don’t go because people steal from you, we don’t go because you can’t even really sleep in the shelter. But my feet are cold, and these clothes are all I’ve got.
According to The New York Times, there are approximately 80,000 homeless individuals living within the Chicago area.
If you see any homeless or people who are struggling with warmth in their home with their dog, #AeslinPupHub is providing shelter, a shower for their owner, and care for the dog. They are taking donations if you have food, supplies, and time. #Chicago #PolarVortex pic.twitter.com/Wnns6e4klT
— johanna (@yarrhanna) January 30, 2019
hey just a quick tweet, that Chicago is expected to be colder than Mt. Everest and Siberia this week. You might be at home safe and warm but there’re hundreds of people that are homeless. If you see someone homeless, pls ask first and take them to a homeless shelter nearby. pic.twitter.com/76QRtWJkxi
— Annabeth 🐢 (@lolnollacp) January 29, 2019
As Chicago experiences extreme cold & snow, we're deploying warming buses to assist homeless residents, adding shelter beds to accommodate those in need & expanding the hours at the King Community Center (4314 S Cottage) warming center to provide 24hr assistance. #StayWarmChicago pic.twitter.com/FeW7YxPS9I
— Mayor Rahm Emanuel (@ChicagosMayor) January 28, 2019
The generous individual’s identity remains unknown, but their kind deed will not be forgotten.
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