BROOKLYN - Braving freezing temperatures, thousands of volunteers hit the streets of New York City Monday night to lend a helping hand as a part of the Department of Homeless Services? 7th annual Hope Count.

?I feel it?s a part of life to help people and sort of see the city in a different perspective,? said participant Caitlin Erving.

Hundreds of volunteers gathered in the lunch room of P.S. 261 for a brief training before heading out to the streets. Whenever the participants of the count came across homeless people, they not only marked them down, but also offered them assistance.

?Sometimes it just seems like people need help,? said volunteer James Teanes. ?It just seems like it would be great to see if I can contribute.?

Organizers said they conduct the survey in mid-January because it gives them the best information on people who live on the streets throughout the year. The ultimate goal of the initiative is to determine the effectiveness of the outreach programs managed by the Department of Homeless Services.

Despite the efforts by volunteers, there is a widespread concern that the city administration is going to drastically reduce services to the homeless in light of the economic crisis. Organizers of the homeless count hope its results will encourage Mayor Michael Bloomberg to reconsider denying assistance to those living on the streets.