CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - Normally, the Gaia Interfaith Center in Carbondale is meant to be a place where students from Southern Illinois University can do things like study, host socials or go to some of the non-profit's special events.
However, because they are away on winter break until January 16 the board in charge of the Gaia Center has decided to open its doors to the homeless to get away from the bitter cold.
According to Gala Center Board Member Fern Chappel the idea was brought up as a way to put the heated space to good use while it was empty.
She says the board didn't know of any warming centers in the area so they decided to serve as one as long as possible.
Starting on New Year's Eve, she and several other volunteers from the Center started coming in to open up the areas inside for the homeless to sleep for the night.
According to Chappel, there have been more people using the space every night since opening.
"You know, we do have heat here we do have electricity and water, so let's just open it up it's empty," she said describing the board meeting where this action was decided. "As long as the weather is inclement like it is, we'll have it open we'll try to keep it open"
The Gaia Center is open to the homeless to warm up between the hours of 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. until further notice.