BURLINGTON, Vt. (WFFF) — Cold weather poses a serious danger to those facing homelessness. That’s why warming centers like the Community Resource Center in Burlington being open to provide shelter and food represents a vital resource.

The shelter, run by the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity, has seen the number of daily visitors triple. “This year, we are averaging around 75,” said project coordinator Abbey Germyn. “Last winter, we were averaging around 15.”

Only 18 people are allowed in at a time, and visitors can get free winter clothing like hats, mittens, and a sweater. “Our guests have to sign in and do a COVID health screening form and get their temperature taken upon arrival. We also serve food and hot meals and coffee and tea throughout the day that is keeping folks warm on days like this,” said Germyn. “We are really concerned about folks today and going into this week.”

One local, Jonathan, comes to the shelter about four times a week. “It’s the biggest help that we have,” he said. “Coffee, food, pit stop, good conversations, and try to help anyone I can.”

Dr. Chance Sullivan at the University of Vermont Medical Center said people experiencing homelessness are among the highest risk populations for developing frostbite. “You might start to notice some pain—some redness and some swelling—at the hands at the nose at the feet,” he said. “These are some of the most commonly places that are affected.”

Dr. Sullivan said layers are key, along with finding warming shelters such as the Community Resource Center. The Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity is in need of clothing donations. To find out how to help, click here.