Schwartz Center Winter Gala benefits arts, Code Purple

The Schwartz Center will play host to a Winter Gala Wednesday night, which is designed to boost the arts in Kent County and Code Purple’s efforts to house and clothe the homeless during the winter months. (Delaware State News file photo/Marc Clery)

DOVER — During the holidays, the spirit of giving takes over and the more fortunate take the time to give back to the less fortunate. This year, that spirit led the reigning Miss Wilmington, Rebecca Gasperetti, to host a Winter Gala at Dover’s Schwartz Center for the Arts.

The gala, scheduled for Wednesday evening, will be a formal event benefiting Code Purple and also to support the arts at the Schwartz Center.

“I first heard about Code Purple a couple years ago at a Milford City Council meeting and it’s something I knew I wanted to get involved in,” Ms. Gasperetti said.

Code Purple operates during winter months and provides warm food, a bed and cold-weather supplies to the homeless.

But the circumstances whereby Code Purple found a slot on the agenda weren’t positive at the meeting.

“They talked about lack of funding and that Code Purple might not be able to operate (during) the upcoming winter and I realized we need to do more to keep this program going,” she said.

“They’ve done so much throughout the state and I hope that we’re able to raise enough money to make a difference.”

Ms. Gasperetti, a resident of Magnolia, was inspired enough by their efforts to make her Miss

Rebecca Gasperetti

Delaware Pageant platform homeless awareness and prevention and even start her own project to help the homeless, Code Backpack.

“Code Purple helps so much during the winter but there needs to be something for people during the rest of the year and that’s where Code Backpack comes in,” she said.

Through Code Backpack, homeless individuals are able to obtain backpacks full of basic necessities like socks and toiletries.

“Everyone has faced a financial struggle at one time or another and it’s important for people to realize that some people can’t overcome their problems and they have no place to go,” she said.

“It’s a serious problem in the entire country and you can see it right here in Delaware. I want to do whatever I can to help alleviate the problem even if it is little by little.”

With the encouragement of her mother, Ms. Gasperetti chose to host an event to raise money for Code Purple and collect supplies for Code Backpack.

“I had been thinking about doing a charitable event for about two years but the idea really took off a few months ago,” she said.

While considering venues, she knew the Schwartz Center would be the perfect one.

“I’ve been involved with the Schwartz Center for a long time,” she said.

“I did plays there when I was a member of the Children’s Theatre and I performed there for high school too.”

She started the planning alongside Schwartz manager Don Lonski. The two will be hosts for the evening.

Folk duo The Honey Badgers will perform at Wednesday night’s Winter Gala at the Schwartz Center for the Arts in Dover. (Delaware State News file photo)

The gala begins at 6 p.m. for VIP guests and 6:30 for general admission with a cocktail hour with live music, heavy hors d’ourves and an open bar.

A show takes the stage at 7 p.m. featuring performances by former Miss Delawares, local pageant title holders, music by The Honey Badgers, the University of Delaware’s Kommon Tones jazz band and dance groups.

Guests are asked to bring donations for Code Backpack to the event. Book bags, toiletries, reusable water bottles, can openers, socks and warm clothing are welcome.

“I’m really hoping that this event is a big success and it can become an annual tradition,” Ms. Gasperetti said.

“Everyone has worked really hard to organize it and I think it’s going to be amazing.”

Tickets are $35 for general admission or $100 for VIP admission, which includes priority seating, an additional 30 minutes of the cocktail hour, a souvenir mug and a meet and greet session with all the evening’s performers.

Tickets are available online at, by phone at 302-678-5152 or at the door.

The Schwartz Center is at 226 S. State St., Dover.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ashton Brown is a freelance writer living in Dover.

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