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This year has started out in a bad, bad way for LaToya Burton of Des Moines.

She buried her cousin who was murdered on Christmas Eve. Her Pontiac Bonneville just broke down. She thinks it’s the transmission but isn’t sure. And Burton doesn’t have the money or know-how to fix it. Money is tight. Period.

So Burton found herself walking some 10-12 blocks on a frigid Monday morning on her way back from a relative’s house. The cold was too much. She had to get out of it. So Burton stepped inside Creative Visions to warm up. She found much more than just a break from the cold. Burton said a woman walked up to her and said, “Hey! Do you want some coffee, donut? We’ve got chili cooking and everything.”

Burton felt the warmth from far more than just the chili. Not much has been going right this year. But at least on this day she found a warm break, a warm meal and an ever warmer smile. “I appreciate it,” she said.

CEO and Founder State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad said staff talked a few days ago after learning how cold it would be. But he said the overwhelming decision was to open the doors Monday.

So staff and volunteers had hot coffee, apple cider, donuts and chili for anyone who needed it. Samad said, “Life doesn’t stop, especially for poor and the middle class, life doesn’t stop. They have to continue to do the work they do no matter how cold the weather is.”