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'In this for the long-haul': St. Louis cooling center faces AC issues after heater theft this winter

For the second time in less than a year, staff at the former Asbury UMC is dealing with temperature control issues, and they hope donors can help.

ST. LOUIS — With temperatures creeping into the mid-90s Thursday, St. Louisans come to the old Asbury United Methodist Church in the Greater Ville Neighborhood looking for air conditioning, but the cooling center is warmer than organizers would like.

"The air conditioning is working in our sanctuary so we are trying to get air from the sanctuary into where the shelter location is to be able to keep everyone cool," City Hope St. Louis Director of Operations Hulon Willis said.

They're moving cold air from one side of the building to the other, hoping it's enough to keep up with the stretch of record-breaking weather this week in a shelter that's always at capacity.

"It is always full," Willis said. "Right now we are trying to get 18 people in there but hopefully, we are able to expand at some point and be able to help more people.

Hulon Willis said this isn't the first time they've had a temperature emergency since taking over the building last winter.

In November, Bishop Michael Robinson, CEO of City Hope St. Louis told 5 On Your Side the estimates for a new heat pump "weaken my knees a little bit" after thieves took over with their equipment as they prepared to open a winter shelter.

They raised enough money to install a new furnace, sheltering folks through the coldest winter days. Now, they're hoping another round of donations will carry them through the summer heat.

"We are in this for the long-haul so we are here to support anyway we can," Willis said.

City Hope estimates they need $4,000 for a new HVAC unit, taking donations online.

Donations of fans, water, and Gatorade can also be dropped off at the church at 4001 Maffitt Avenue or City Hope's office at 2010 South 8th Street.

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