BOISE - Recent winter weather has hit Boise's homeless population hard, prompting an "emergency status" at Interfaith Sanctuary, officials said on Monday.

The state's largest homeless shelter is asking for donations of over-the-counter cold medications for its influx of sick and coughing homeless guests.

"This cold and wet winter is doing a number on our guests at the shelter and several are suffering from respiratory distress," said shelter co-director Dan Ault in a statement. "Items that will help include... cough drops and immune system boosters plus hand and foot warmers."

Another immediate need is for coloring books, crayons and colored pencils for our adult guests,

"This is a wonderful artistic distraction for our guests who are cooped up inside during the evening at the shelter because it is so darn cold," said co-director Jodi Peterson. "They love the calm and quiet of working on a project that is creative and easy."

The shelter put together an Amazon wish list to make it easy for people to donate.