Warming Centers Open Around the City: You Can Help

Snowy Day in Knoxville, March 2022
Snow Scenes in the City, Knoxville, January 2016

While most of us are comfortable in our homes watching the winter weather forecast and stocking up on milk and bread, others in Knoxville are worried about simply surviving the bitter-cold temperatures over the next week. Three Knoxville area churches have volunteered to work with the Knoxville-Knox County Office of Housing Stability to provide shelter to unhoused individuals and their pets during this season’s cold winter. While KARM helps to provide this service in the immediate downtown area, there is still a great need in South, East, and West Knoxville as temperatures dip into the low 20s and single digits this week, with windchills making it unbearable.

Executive Director of the Knoxville-Knox Co. Office of Housing Stability, Erin Read, tells me this year is a pilot year for a warming center program. Churches have been serving as warming centers for years prior to an official program launch. While there will be kinks to work out, she is grateful to the churches and volunteers stepping in to provide care for some of the most vulnerable in our city, all of which already have programs working with the unhoused. “Each location has its own schedule for when they open and temperature threshold,” Read said. “Next year, our goal is to have more consistency.”

Knoxville Police Department (KPD), EMS and service agencies are notifying those in encampments of where they can stay warm overnight and will help provide transportation for those who need it. To find out if the center nearest your location will be open, you can call the nonemergency KPD line. 865-215-4010

Warming Center Notice Jan 2024

West Knoxville:

Cokesbury Church

9919 Kingston Pike

Open 7 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Doors close for the night at 8 p.m.


South Knoxville:

Vestal United Methodist Church

115 Ogle Ave.

Open 5 p.m. to 10 a.m.

Doors close for the night at 8 p.m.


East Knoxville:

Magnolia Avenue United Methodist Church

2700 E. Magnolia Ave.

Open 5 p.m. to 10 a.m.

Doors close for the night at 8 p.m.

Currently, volunteers are needed to help staff the Vestal and Magnolia locations. Volunteers assist with setting up cots, welcoming guests, passing out food, visiting guests, and helping clean up in the mornings. Some volunteers will be needed to stay overnight.

Vestal: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040F49A4AC22A5F85-46643625-warming#/

Magnolia: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040F49A4AC22A5F85-46953168-warming#/

If you would like to make a donation to support the warning centers, the following items are needed:

  • Used or new: sleeping bags, bedding (especially comforters) and scrubs of all sizes, winter weather clothing
  • New only, please: toiletries, socks, and underwear, snacks, bottled water

To donate, please contact Knox Area Rescue Ministries at (865) 673-6540 or by email at info@karm.org. It is important to note that the donations will be stored separately from regular KARM donations and go directly to those in need at the warming centers. These items will not be sold or placed in KARM stores.

To get more info, call 865-215-4010. To volunteer, call 211 or email office@knoxtnhousing.org.