"Samaritan Patrol" helps the homeless stay warm in the bitter cold


by Adrianna Hopkins


Posted on January 4, 2010 at 10:50 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 5 at 12:51 AM

To say it's bitter cold outside may be an understatement. But there are people who will spend the night outside instead of going to a shelter to stay warm.

Billy Bradford stepped outside of his warm Ford Explorer, slipped on his gloves, and walked to the edge of a wooded area near River Rd. and yelled, "Hey James! Got coffee!"

In his car, he has coffee, blankets, whatever warmth he can offer, including a ride to Wayside Christian Mission.

And out of the brush walks Brian Boone.

"There's no chance you happen to have any sugar is there?" asked Boone.

"No.. don't have any sugar. Have a bunch of sandwiches though," said Brian.

Brian's lived in a tent in this wooded area off and on for about nine years and the cold weather, won't change that.

"What kind of provisions do you have to stay warm? Basically a bunch of sleeping bags, comforters, you keep piling them on to stay warm," said Boone.

We walked with him to the place he calls home, and inside a large tent several people share, there's a lamp, fire, sleeping bags and blankets.

"The only time I really get cold is when I gotta crawl out of there to go do something," said Boone.

James Smith lives nearby in this wooded area. He's done so off and on for five years. Like Brian, he doesn't intend to stay in a shelter during this winter to stay warm.

"The shelter is a great place for some people to be. But not for me. It's for people that just don't have any mentality whatsoever. They're drifting too fast or too hard. they just don't have an education," said Smith.

So Billy, his wife, Brian and James share a cup of coffee. Then Billy moves on. He's been patrolling for about three years now.

"I just think about how hard it must be to stay warm and stay alive and temperatures like this," he said.

Some nights he says he'll help 3 or 4 people, or 25 or 30.

"Some people are pretty well set up as far as some people can even make fires, you know. Some people catch themselves out without making any preparations at all. All they have is a jacket," said Bradford.

Tonight, he'll brave the cold, and spend a few hours helping other people.