Code Purple shelters offer warm welcome to homeless

06dsn Code Purple 001 - FRONT by .

Presbyterian Church member and Code Purple volunteer Jimmy Gray of Clayton preps a bed for one of the homeless men who will stay the night Tuesday. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

DOVER — Overnight temperatures in the teens Tuesday morning put a freeze on the record warm December experienced in Dover and reminded everybody it really is winter.

With below-freezing temperatures in the forecast tonight, Kent County’s Code Purple shelters are ready to take in the homeless.

The initiative, now in its third year, provides temporary sanctuary for the homeless when the temperature or wind chill drops below 32 degrees.

Tonight the low will be in the 20s, according to the National Weather Service.

It’s the third consecutive cold day but temperatures are expected to warm up Thursday so tonight will be the last

CODE PURPLE SHELTERS Shelters will open at 5 tonight and close at 7 a.m. Thursday.  • Presbyterian Church (men only), 54 S. State St., Dover. The entrance is on Reed Street. • Centennial United Methodist Church (men only), 44 E. Mount Vernon St., Smyrna.  • Milford Community Center (women only), 105 N.E. Front St., Milford. • Wesley United Methodist Church (women only), 209 S. State St., Dover. (The shelter, which has purple lights in the window, is behind the church on East North Street.) If no guests arrive by 8:30 the site will close. Free meals at soup kitchens are available 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the following: Wednesday through Saturday: Salvation Army at 611 Forest St., Dover. Sunday: Dover Public Library, 35 E. Loockerman St. Monday: Calvary Baptist, 410 Fulton St., Dover,  Tuesday: Mount Zion AME Church, 101 N. Queen St., Dover

CODE PURPLE SHELTERS
Shelters will open at 5 tonight and close at 7 a.m. Thursday.
• Presbyterian Church (men only), 54 S. State St., Dover. The entrance is on Reed Street.
• Centennial United Methodist Church (men only), 44 E. Mount Vernon St., Smyrna.
• Milford Community Center (women only), 105 N.E. Front St., Milford.
• Wesley United Methodist Church (women only), 209 S. State St., Dover. (The shelter, which has purple lights in the window, is behind the church on East North Street.)
If no guests arrive by 8:30 the site will close.
Free meals at soup kitchens are available 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the following:
Wednesday through Saturday: Salvation Army at 611 Forest St., Dover.
Sunday: Dover Public Library, 35 E. Loockerman St.
Monday: Calvary Baptist, 410 Fulton St., Dover,
Tuesday: Mount Zion AME Church, 101 N. Queen St., Dover

night shelters in Kent County will be open. At least, until the next cold spell hits.

“We’ve been full every night since we opened on Friday,”said Rebecca Martin, director of Kent County Code Purple.

“It’s been really cold these past few days,” she said, “The weather will start to warm up after Wednesday, so there will be no need for us to be open then.”

Doors open at 5 p.m. at several sanctuaries throughout Kent County. Those staying overnight must be inside by 8:30 p.m. and out the following morning by 7 a.m.

Tonight the locations for men are at the Presbyterian Church in Dover and Centennial United Methodist Church in Smyrna.

For women the locations are at the Milford Community Center and Wesley United Methodist Church in Dover.

“We’ve been waiting for the winter to break,” Ms. Martin said. “It was really warm in December, but now that temperatures have dropped we can help out those who need it during these cold nights.”

Mitchell Gaines, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, New Jersey, said the weather is close to normal for this time of year.

“We’re finally starting to get a taste of winter,” Mr. Gaines said. “It took a while, but we’re finally experiencing it. It’s a quick cold shot.

“We had a cold front that moved from the southeast portion of Canada and that’s what brought the cold air,” he said.

The weather is expected to be warmer the next few days, with high temperatures rising to nearly 50 degrees by the weekend, Mr. Gaines said.

06dsn Code Purple 003 by .

Code Purple volunteer Betsy Gray of Clayton unpacks bottled water for the men who stayed at the Presbyterian Church Tuesday night.

“It will be 10 to 15 degrees warmer than normal over the next few days. It’s due to us having a strong El Niño in the tropical Pacific.”

But don’t get to use to the 50s.

“Next week it seems as though it’s going to go right back to being cold again,” Mr. Gaines said.

Ms. Martin expects Code Purple will be in effect again sometime next week.

“We’re ready,” she said. “We’re going to close after Wednesday night. Then I think it’s going to get cold again next week and we should be open then. But we’ll be prepared for it.”

Unlike a full-time shelter, guests cannot be denied based on drug or alcohol use but judgment can be made by each shelter operator and its staff if an individual might pose a threat to themselves or others.

Dinner and breakfast come with stays at Code Purple sanctuaries along with food, gloves and hats, among other items, distributed on departure.

Ms. Martin said they’re hoping to help out as many people as they can.

“That’s what we’re here for,” Ms. Martin said. “We have a lot of supplies, but we’re always in need of breakfast food like cereals, granola bars and bagels.”

Code Purple also will plan to place jackets and scarves in downtown Dover for those in need.

“We did it over the holidays and it was a success,” Ms. Martin said. “We hung over 1,500 coats and scarves in various places downtown. We’re currently planning to go back out and do that again.”

It’s purely a volunteer effort that keeps the organization running, so parishioners and members of the community play a vital role in accommodating people seeking the shelters’ services.

“We’re always in the need of volunteers,” Ms. Martin said. “We need overnight volunteers for the men and woman shelters. Any help will be great.”

Organizers also have established a toll-free number, (800) 733-6816, which will have a recording, updated daily, stating if the alert is in effect and what shelters are open.

06dsn Code Purple 002 by .

The beds were ready to be used in the basement of The Presbyterian Church in Dover Tuesday evening.

E-mail comments to newsroom@newszap.com.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment