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Dec 6, 2013 12:49 AM by Samantha Ptashkin

"It's Unbearable." Homeless Tucsonans brave bitter cold

TUCSON- As many of us crank up our heaters this week, there are some Tucsonans sleeping outside on cold sidewalks.

"It's unbearable," says Gregory Williams.

Williams is one of a couple dozen homeless people who sleep on the sidewalk near Veinte de Agosto Park downtown. The area is dubbed a "Safe Park", a place where the homeless can set up camp, without breaking the law.

Since they started sleeping there in October, they have been dreading the winter months.

"We've been teaching them about layering up and sleeping on cardboard instead of the ground, so they aren't freezing that way," says Jon McLane, a homeless man, who helped lead the Occupy Tucson movement.

Once in a while, some good samaritans will stop by to drop off coats and blankets. "I've been outside without a jacket before, so I know how cold it gets in Tucson," says Brittany Majalca, who dropped off blankets Thursday night. "There are some people who really need things and it's hard to ignore."

It's an act of kindness that doesn't go unnoticed. "I'm extremely grateful because not only does it show me that people still have a sense of humanity, but especially in Tucson, that people matter," Williams says.

It's a thought that will provide hope in the weeks ahead, as Williams preps for more cold nights.

If you would like to donate coats, blankets, or food to the homeless people, just drop the items off at Veinte de Agosto Park, near Church and Broadway.

To learn more about "Safe Park", visit the organization's Facebook page.

Thursday night the Salvation Army's "Operation Deep Freeze" went into effect for the first time this season. The Salvation Army opens the doors to its Hospitality House at 1021 N. 11th Avenue anytime the temperature dips below 35 degrees, or 40 degrees with rain.

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