NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — More than half the people who stay at Old Tent City under I-24 near the Cumberland River will brace the bitter cold temperatures expected in the coming days instead of going to a shelter, which is why Heather Young, founder of All for Him Ministry, handed out supplies Thursday to make sure they survive.

“The more things we can get on them personally, the warmer we can keep them, the safer that they’ll be,” Young said.

She established All for Him Ministry seven years ago and has befriended many of Nashville’s homeless through the process.

On Thursday, Young went to Old Tent City and handed out blankets, coats, hand warmers and propane to anyone who needed it.

Young told News 2 many people refuse to go to the shelter because they can’t bring their dogs, they don’t want to leave their tents, or they don’t want to have to follow any rules.

However, Young knows if the homeless choose to stay outside during the cold temperatures, it could be deadly.

“Last year we had a gentleman we were very close to, and he froze to death in the porta potty on 1st Avenue, and that was heart wrenching,” Young said.

Around 700 homeless people across the U.S. die from hypothermia each year, according to the organization Father Joe’s Villages, which is why the Salvation Army plans to spend Thursday night encouraging people to go to a shelter.

“With temperatures that we’re going to experience this weekend, historic lows, it’s going to be life-threatening,” Captain Philip Canning, Commander of the Nashville Salvation Army said.
“These individuals that are experiencing homelessness at this time are extremely vulnerable in many ways, so it touches our hearts because these people are created in the image of God, (and) they’re going to be experiencing some very harsh conditions.”

That’s what makes it even more difficult for Young to leave them behind at the end of the day.

“It’s hard when you make connections to people down here, and it’s so hard to drive back to your house knowing that they’re out here,” Young said. “People say, ‘Oh, it’s their choice,’ I’ve heard it all, but at the end of the day it’s someone’s kid. I always say it’s someone’s son, it’s someone’s daughter. How would you want them to be treated?”

To learn more about All for Him Ministry, or to make a donation, click here.