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Local nonprofit leads donation efforts for people in need during heatwaves

Unhoused STL is collecting donations at 2222 Olive Street to help people in need during the rising temperatures.

ST. LOUIS — For the unhoused population and people without air conditioning, these temperatures are brutal and dangerous.

For many, their main priority during heatwaves is to survive.

Christopher Carter is diabetic, has medical issues from burns and is newly homeless. The extreme heat makes his conditions much worse.

"I walked into the door, my blood sugar was so low I thought I was going to fall over. Something as simple as getting a Gatorade with a little bit of sugar in it, and it completely turned my entire afternoon around, cause I was going to be in some serious trouble," Carter said.

He stumbled across the Heatwave Help location on Olive Street downtown run by street outreach worker Avital Reznikov and Unhoused STL founding director Ramona Curtis.

"I spoke to somebody today and he said for two days he was just laying in a spot with leg cramps and vomiting and nobody around to help him," Reznikov said.

"There aren't any public sources of water right now, with most of the fountains being cut off after the pandemic, so our unhoused neighbors don't really have access to water," Curtis said.

"The City thinks that libraries are a suitable place for people to go whenever they're trying to escape dangerous conditions and it's really not a great option for a lot of people," Reznikov said.

"A lot of people who are unhoused suffer from mental illnesses where they have outbursts and of course, the library is a quiet place, so that's not the best place for them," Reggie Balle said.

St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson says their heat-related calls have been relatively mild.

"So far, over the past, I'll say three days of the heat, wave we've been averaging about 10 a day which isn't bad, we can deal with that," Jenkerson said. "People who have some mild illnesses started feeling the effect of the heat later on in the afternoon, that's when we started seeing our numbers kind of ramp-up."

To brace for the brutally hot summer ahead, Curtis and Reznikov are collecting donations, anything from ice and cold drinks to wash cloths and t-shirts to help the ones who need it most.

"If it wasn't for people like this that are out here on the streets, to disseminate information to people like me, I wouldn't know what to do or where to go," Carter said.

To help Unhoused STL with donations, call or text 314-302-6693 or 314-224-1226. Their donation drop-off is located at 2222 Olive Street.

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