There's no question about it; it's hot outside.

If you're homeless, that heat can be very dangerous. That is why the city of Phoenix and Maricopa Association of Governments work to provide resources for these individuals through summer programs, said Tim Cole, coordinator for Phoenix's Summer Respite Program.

The city of Phoenix Summer Respite Program is an annual donation program from June 1 to Sept. 30, Cole said. The public is asked to donate water bottles, sunscreen, new underwear, white socks and T-shirts, insect repellent and prepackaged snacks. Monetary donations are also accepted and tax deductible.

The public can donate these items to any of three family services centers coordinated with the program, Travis L. Williams, John F. Long or Sunnyslope, Cole said. The centers are located at 4732 S. Central Ave., 3454 N. 51st Ave., and 914 W. Hatcher Road. The items are then picked up by homeless outreach teams that distribute them to those who need them.

The outreach teams work to help the homeless year-round, so they are familiar with many of those who are chronically homeless and they can easily find places homeless are likely to be. Thirteen of these teams take part in the Summer Respite Programs since they know the potential danger that comes with hot Arizona summers, Cole said.

Heat-related deaths are by far the No. 1 weather-related killer in Arizona, according to the National Weather Service. Between 1993 and 2003, there were 253 heat-related deaths in the state.

Another program that hopes to lower the death toll and help the homeless is the Heat-Relief Network that is coordinated through the city of Phoenix and the Maricopa Association of Governments. The network is comprised of mostly community and faith-based volunteer organizations that set up collection, hydration and refuge stations throughout the city, according to a fact sheet from the association.

The program has 42 collection sites that collect water bottles or money to buy water bottles, and 63 hydration and/or refuge stations that provide water and indoor areas for homeless to stay during the heat of the day, according to the fact sheet. The station in Ahwatukee Foothills at the Pecos Community Center serves as all three types of stations.

Cole said that donations for the programs are usually at their highest during July and August, since that is when it is hottest outside.

"When July rolls around, that's when the donations really start to peak," Cole said. "It's just like anything, you don't think about it if it's not hot out."

Still, though it may not seem as hot in June or September, the weather is still potentially dangerous for the homeless. The National Weather Service said that on average, the first 100-degree day in Phoenix is May 13, and the last is Sept. 28, which is why the programs are asking the public to keep donating throughout the entire summer.

For more information on donations and the programs, call the city of Phoenix at (602) 262-4720.

Jolie McCullough is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a senior at Arizona State University.


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