Mokabe's Makes Helping the Homeless on Cold Winter Nights Super Easy

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Mokabe's - VOICE PLACES

When the temperature at night dips below twenty degrees, an eclectic group of south city neighbors meet at Mokabe's Coffeehouse on Arsenal and prepare to spend the night in the cold.

Mo Costello, who owns the South Grand spot, describes the group as a ragtag group of part-missionaries-part-anarchists who leave their warm homes on St. Louis' most bitter nights and distribute gloves, hats, blankets, food and more to those living in the streets.

"We always look like we're angels, but really these folks are incredibly welcoming and grateful," Costello says. "We are strangers, and they are kind enough to let us see if they need anything. Every time we're out there, whether it's an encampment or the door nook at Christ Church Cathedral...we help to lighten their burden."

The winter supplies volunteers pass out come from local donations. Neighbors can drop off gloves, hats or even casseroles at Mokabe's, and volunteers will take to homeless people on the coldest night. The organization is not -- and has no plans to become -- a 501c3 nonprofit, so donations big and small go "straight to the streets," Costello says.

If you're feeling guilty about making someone else trek through the cold to pass out your glove or blanket donations, don't, says Costello. "We just have a ball," she tells the Daily RFT. "We can pretend we are altruistic, but really, we love it. It feeds our heart."

See also: Group Can't Serve Hot Food To Homeless Without Permit, Says STL Health Dept.

All are welcome to join the loosely organized, non-hierarchical outreach group made up most nights with several women older than 50 and college students. The group is always looking for new volunteers to like their Facebook page and join the Yahoo group to find out when they'll head to the streets.

"People ask us all the time, 'What church are you with?'" says Costello, who is 61. The group has no religious affiliation. "You don't have to pray. It's just heart to heart."

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.

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