ALTON/EDWARDSVILLE - The volunteer-run Overnight Warming Locations (OWL) are expanding from Alton to Edwardsville as the nonprofit prepares for its fifth consecutive season of providing shelter for unhoused members of the community on winter’s coldest nights.

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On nights when temperatures are forecasted to drop to 20 degrees or below, OWL volunteers help activate an emergency shelter at Deliverance Temple Church, located at 1125 E. 6th St. in Alton.

Last winter, the Alton OWL opened its doors on 16 nights, serving 60 different guests, according to a press release from the organization. Volunteers were also able to help one guest secure permanent housing after he aged out of foster care last season.

“Friendships have formed with our unhoused neighbors and volunteers, resulting in getting folks connected to life-saving services such as housing and social service providers,” Alton OWL Operations Director Tyler Dreith said.

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On Nov. 4, 2023, Germania Brew Haus fans can support the OWL by participating in a round-up fundraiser to kick off Homelessness Awareness Month in November. Customers can round their purchases up to the nearest dollar to benefit the OWL in its mission “to provide a place for unhoused neighbors to get inside, get connected, and get well,” the organization stated.

Dreith said the OWL is partnering to open a second location in Edwardsville sometime this year. This is a private effort and not related to the City of Edwardsville.

“I am really encouraged by Edwardsville opening an overnight warming location this year,” Dreith said. “They have said that they were inspired by the volunteers here in Alton serving our unhoused neighbors on the coldest nights over the past four years. Compassion seems to be spreading!”

An exact address for the new location has not been provided yet, but this story will be updated once it has. Volunteers are currently being recruited for both the Alton and Edwardsville locations. Visit this link to sign up or learn more about the volunteer opportunities available, and visit this link to donate to support the OWL.

While there are some existing daytime warming shelter locations in the community, the OWL is the area’s only nighttime warming shelter. For more information and updates on the OWL, visit their Facebook page.

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