Code Purple volunteers gather up Firefly ‘leftovers’

 

DOVER — As thousands of Firefly attendees inched out of their campsites Monday morning a caravan of volunteers in purple T-shirts moved in.

The group of 150 were on site in support of Code Purple, an initiative to keep the homeless out of the cold by providing shelter and warm meals overnight throughout the winter months.

“Last year, a few people came out here after hearing there was a little of everything left behind after the festival,” said John Rundle, a co-organizer of Monday’s collection. “So this year we decided to put together a formal effort.”

Mr. Rundle and the other organizers contacted Firefly’s parent company, Red Frog, soon after last year’s festival to ask for permission to proceed with the volunteer effort.

“Red Frog has been really supportive of what we’re doing and they also helped us get some of these volunteers together,” Mr. Rundle said.

The volunteers responded to the invite through Red Frog, church, friends and co-workers.

“I heard about it from one of my superiors and thought it’s a great way to help the community and the homeless,” said Airman Alaina Marti.

The volunteers broke into small groups of five or six around 9 a.m. to sort through almost everything campers left behind that could be of use to homeless individuals.

The top priority was sleeping bags which can be used either in the shelters or given out to the homeless.

Mr. Rundle said last year about 80 sleeping bags were collected by the small group that scavenged the campgrounds but he expected with the manpower they had on site Monday, at least three times that would be collected.

Capitol Cleaners will clean all the sleeping bags free of charge along with other salvageable materials like towels and blankets.

Next on the list was tents so the homeless could have the opportunity to maintain a temporary shelter of their own during warmer months.

Also collected were leftover clothes and shoes in good enough condition to be cleaned and distributed.

Things that probably won’t be used by homeless individuals — packs of batteries, plastic furniture or small appliances — were also collected and will be sold in a fall yard sale from which all proceeds will benefit Code Purple.

“All the miscellaneous camping supplies are being moved to storage space that’s been donated to us where it will stay until the sale which will probably be held in September,” Mr. Rundle said.

Everything collected by the volunteers was transported to either storage or the cleaners by the Two Men and a Truck moving company which chose to support the effort.

An inventory of all the miscellaneous goods will be taken before being placed in storage so Code Purple will be able to track the materials they have to work with since aside from the yard sale, some of the goods like tables and furniture can be used at the shelters.

“Last year, the people who came out filled up a truck within two hours so we knew we had to think bigger this year,” Mr. Rundle said. “Not only the moving trucks, but the number of volunteers and storage space … the inventory process, too.”

The volunteers collected from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and members of local churches donated food and water to keep them going until the end.

After the Code Purple volunteers finished up, crews of workers were brought on site to start removing trash left behind by the campers which was strewn throughout the campsite.

For more information about Code Purple, visit the group’s Facebook page by searching Code Purple Kent County.

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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