KASSON, Minn. (KTTC) – With dangerous cold wind chills expected to plunge double digits below zero this week, cities and counties are opening warming centers where people can escape the danger of hypothermia and frostbite.
When Becky Schultz learned her Kasson neighbors are forced to travel about 30 minutes to reach the nearest warming center in Rochester or Owatonna, she announced on Facebook she’d turn her shop into a temporary warming center.
“Hello everyone! We are trying something new. As of today I decided to open my store as a ‘warming center.’
Schultz opened Becky’s Community Closet in 2017 to offer affordable clothing and housewares. The store will now be open through next week for people struggling to find a warm, safe space during the cold spell.
After posting to Facebook Friday, a sea of people chimed in to support her cause. Local residents have donated food, blankets, and air mattresses.
“It was just shocking,” said Schultz.
Some families have taken up her offer, including one family Saturday who stayed just for a few hours until their furnace was fixed.
“When we as a family were in need of assistance, of help, or a hand up somewhere along the way, we had family to rely on, and I was like, ‘oh, one day I would love to get into a position to where I can do that.'”‘
Schultz hopes the gesture will motivate the community to create a long-term solution. Because even in Kasson, Schultz says the need is there.
“Something that’s open to the public at all hours for emergencies,” she said. “Law enforcement had really no ideas as to where people could go. One of the answers was ‘maybe one of the churches might help.’ That was one of the answers that really made me want to get on this project. We’re a small town so the need is not as predominant as Rochester or the Cities, but just because you don’t see people out on the streets and holding signs and things like that, doesn’t mean the need is not here.”