WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — The Table at First Christian Church is about to open its doors to the homeless this week.
"I love them. I pray with them. I cannot live with myself if I was home enjoying a warm meal, in a hot, warm place; and they're out here living in the streets. I am just not going to do that. That's why I am going to volunteer to give time here," Brian Wise said.
Wise has a heart for the homeless. He's working with the Table at First Christian Church to open a warming center.
"It's just to give them a place to go so they don't freeze to death out there in the cold temperatures and all, but I would hope and pray that somebody was out there for me if I was living on the streets, or if that was my daughter or son that somebody was looking after them," Wise said.
They plan to keep their doors open this Thursday through Monday depending on the weather. If it continues to stay cold, they may extend those hours.
"It becomes critical when the temperature drops below freezing, particularly when it starts approaching 20 or below. We know at that point hyperthermia becomes an issue and to be able to bring them in," Kidd said.
It's a yearlong ministry for one of the church's elders, Steven Kidd. He says it's just the first phase of their long-term goal.
"Eventually, we want to be a partner in that to do more ministry consistently throughout the year," Kidd said.
In January, they plan to turn that same room into a part-time shelter with showers and 33 newly-donated bunk beds.
Robins Regional Chamber’s CEO April Bragg took to Facebook last week and made sure people in the community knew what the future shelter was going to need. Within 24 hours, she had businesses fully funding and donating all 33 bunk beds, along with pillows, sheets, mattresses, and blankets.
"They're not the homeless to us. They are our neighbors," John Glover said.
They're neighbors Glover says he wants to keep out of the heat in the summer, too.
"We're basically looking at 365 days of the year in the future of providing some type of support to our community," Glover said.
But, for now, the warming center will be open this Thursday through Monday. Wise says he is just proud of the community's compassion.
"I hate calling them 'the homeless' because we all can be one paycheck away from where they are. Most of them just need a helping hand, and that's why we are doing this," Wise said.
The Table at First Christian Church did open their doors last year. They had about 16 people come, but this year, they are expecting more. They have room for 30.
The warming center will be located at 100 North Houston Road. It opens at 4 p.m. Thursday and closes at 4 p.m. Monday, December 22-26. It'll be open for 24 hours on those days. They'll also have nurses here to check their health.
For those of you who are thinking, 'How can I help?' -- Well, they're looking for blankets, shampoo, sock donations, and volunteers!