Demonstrators holding signs gather at the Occupy Wall Street rally...

Demonstrators holding signs gather at the Occupy Wall Street rally in New York on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011. Credit: AP Photo/Caleb Jones

The cold is coming -- and they know it.

As the Occupy Wall Street protesters head into their fourth week, the camp is preparing to dig in for the long haul. Saturday, thoughts were turning to basic human needs and ways to plan and strategize for the challenges ahead.

At Saturday's 9 a.m. coordination meeting, representatives on the numerous task forces dealt with the need for more donations of sleeping bags, ground pads and shoes. Right now there's an oversupply of socks, T-shirts and thermal blankets.

"The cold is definitely a concern for all of us," Olivia Nole-Malpezzi, 18, of Rochester said later. "We definitely need to prepare for the winter, mentally and physically. Donations are everything to us."

The challenges aren't deterring one Long Island protester.

"It's important," said Roy Sharkey, 51, of St. James. "I want this to be effective and result in some kind of change. I want to make a statement that's loud and clear and right, for my children," said the father of two, a carpenter and part-time musician now on disability.

Also discussed at the coordination meeting were compost, recycling, funding, and expanding the kitchen area to accommodate food donations.

"We're feeding 2,000 people a day and growing but we need to coordinate with sanitation to get the trash out. We're spilling into the areas where people sleep," said a kitchen crew representative, who gave her name as Tami.

With numbers swelling, there are concerns the protest may soon outgrow Zuccotti Park, a sliver of open space amid lower Manhattan's canyons.

"If we do get to the point when we reach capacity, we're going to have to look for other venues to legally occupy," said Nicole Pace, 23, a Patchogue native now living in Harlem.

How long protesters can occupy the park may depend on the way they manage relationships with neighbors, businesses and the police.

Though there have been complaints of graffiti and bathroom damage from some nearby restaurants and fast-food outlets, store managers interviewed Saturday spoke of an upside -- increased business.

Kevin Crossan, general manager of Modell's lower Manhattan store, said his store had requested extra stock of cold-weather clothing, sleeping bags and camping gear.

Hundreds of the protesters embarked Saturday on a 2-mile march through the tony SoHo shopping district to Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. The NYPD said that as of 7:15 p.m. Saturday, no arrests had been made.

Once at the park, the workings of the protest were explained to an audience of more than 2,000, with bystanders encouraged to join the occupation. The second edition of the group's newspaper, The Occupied Wall Street Journal, was handed out. About 25,000 copies of the paper were printed and it also was available in Spanish.

Onlooker Bob Griffith, 49, an Episcopal priest based in Brooklyn, said he was impressed by the occupiers' general demeanor.

"It's encouraging to me to see this many young people taking part in the democratic process," he said.

Eluding to the tumultuous events of the Arab Spring, he added: "You never know when something is beginning until after the fact . . . But we're lucky to be able to do this here. It's exciting."

With Sarah Crichton

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