LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Temperatures dropped into the low 40’s overnight, leaving many without shelter vulnerable to the cold weather.
Ramona Miller is known throughout the Fort Myers community for the work she does with those experiencing homelessness. She was out Tuesday night offering hygiene bags and much-needed sweatsuits for those braving the cold.
"A lot of them will be sleeping on the ground tonight. And one of the things that I was prompted to do was instead of giving out only the blankets, was to give out sweatsuits as well," says Miller.
A few blocks away at Lions Park in Fort Myers, the lee county government is also working with those most vulnerable to the weather.
"The trigger really for us is when temperatures are near 40 degrees or lower. Even when you say wind chill here in southwest Florida, it can get pretty cold so that is the threshold when we mobilize staff and volunteers to do events like this," says Roger Mercado, Director of Lee County Human and Veteran Services.
The county is teaming up with volunteers to provide blankets, hot coffee, and transportation to local shelters for families.
"A lot of it is just providing a hot cup of coffee and conversation and providing opportunities. By no means are we saying you have to do this or have to do that but we at least want to give that opportunity if you want to go we can make sure there’s room," says Mercado.
While this cold snap may be temporary, Mercado is hopeful that the connections made today will begin to change lives.
"Some folks take this as an opportunity to maybe reassess their life and say maybe I do want more. Maybe this isn't the lifestyle anymore for me. Going into a shelter and being connected to services they have access to employment services, housing services, treatments, and transportation. So there's really a larger opportunity they have just by making this connection," says Mercado.
Lee County is accepting donations of coats, hats, and scarves until Friday. You can find the location nearest you by clicking here.