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Step up, volunteers

If Ashland is the caring and welcoming community it fancies itself, now is a good time to show it.

We’re speaking of the call for volunteers to staff overnight shelters for the homeless this winter. City officials and advocates for the homeless are working to secure space, but shelters cannot operate without volunteers.

After Pioneer Hall was deemed unsuitable for use as a shelter because of structural deficiencies and fire-code requirements, the city began looking for a more long-term location, and preferably one, not several, as in the past when the shelter rotated from Pioneer Hall to local churches on different nights. City officials also are committed to offering seven nights of shelter during the cold months, but they are still far short.

The former Rogue Valley Church on East Main Street looks promising as that single location, but work needs to be done to prepare it, and other locations need to be found in the meantime. The Grove is a possibility, but groups using the facility for classes and other activities are concerned about conflicts. First Presbyterian Church has agreed to host a shelter three nights a week.

Regardless of where space is found, volunteers will be needed to make the program work. Nearly 1,000 volunteer shifts need to be filled. An orientation is planned for 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, at First United Methodist Church.

Volunteering can be rewarding in many ways, but it can also save lives. Freezing temperatures can be fatal to those without shelter.

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