Volunteers pick up Firefly ‘leftovers’ for Code Purple


Deep Water Church Pastor Jeff Dyer, one of the organizers of the Clean-Up for Code Purple, gives instructions to some of the 160 volunteers who helped collect donations on Monday. (Delaware State News/Mike Finney)

DOVER — Never has the saying “Somebody else’s trash might be somebody else’s treasure” rang more true than on a Monday following the Firefly Music Festival.

While thousands of attendees steadily drove away from the four-day music festival on Monday morning, nearly 160 volunteers took to the Woodlands camping grounds behind Dover International Speedway to salvage items to benefit Code Purple Kent County.

Code Purple is an initiative that keeps the homeless out of the cold by providing shelter and warm meals overnight throughout the winter months.

There were couches to be claimed, tents to be dismantled and unopened food to be picked up by an army of volunteers for Code Purple.

“It’s nice to be able to do something for the homeless and to work with Code Purple. It’s very rewarding,” said Christine Lawrence, a volunteer. “People have left usable things. There are also some nasty things, but there are usable things that can be used.

“It’s kind of funny that what somebody else would appreciate is being left behind as garbage. It’s nice to see that some of the stuff that is left behind can be taken advantage of like that.”

Scott Brown recovers an inflatable mattress for Code Purple Kent County on Monday. (Delaware State News/Mike Finney)

John Rundle, a co-organizer of the third annual post-Firefly collection along with Deep Water Church Pastor Jeff Dyer, said the event has grown immensely from its humble beginnings.

“It’s crazy,” Mr. Rundle said. “We came out here two years ago when a friend of mine said, ‘Hey, you guys might want to come out and take a look at this (piles of items left behind).’

“I grabbed Jeff (Dyer) and a few people and we came out and looked and I think we did maybe a quarter of Lot 2 and filled up like two or three trucks.”

Mr. Rundle added, “So we said maybe we should make this a little more organized and the community really jumped on board. We have about 160 volunteers working with us this year.”

The volunteers responded to invitations through Red Frog — Firefly’s parent company — churches, businesses, friends and co-workers.

With wind whipping through the campgrounds Monday morning, volunteers set out to find the highest priority items that Kent County’s homeless population can use the most — such as clothes, sleeping bags, tents, blankets and unopened non-perishable food.

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

A pair of volunteers bring several items to the Two Men and a Truck donation bins for Code Purple on Monday. (Delaware State News/Mike Finney)

Other items, such as pieces of furniture, grills, batteries, and so on, were also collected and will eventually be sold in a yard sale, from which all proceeds will benefit Code Purple.

“Last year we picked up around a ton of food and water combined,” Mr. Rundle said. “It’s great for Code Purple. It puts them ahead by about 80 to 90 tents by the time that we’re finished.

“We’re sort of the lift end of this. We just collect the items and Code Purple determines how it’s distributed.”

The volunteers, which broke into groups of five people each, began the cleanup project at around 9 a.m. and worked until almost 3 p.m. They filled up two large trucks that were donated by the Two Men and a Truck moving company.

Ron Vascik, who was volunteering with around 25 to 30 co-workers from Raymond F. Book and Associates, said his daughter went to Firefly on Friday to see the rock band 21 Pilots perform.

He missed all of that excitement but could clearly see what was left of it.

“We’re just helping to clean up and just trying to give back,” Mr. Vascik said. “I would suspect probably a lot of people come in from out of town, buy tents and things at Target or something, and then they don’t want to take it back with them.

“So this is a great thing for Code Purple.”

Code Purple was a mainstay at Firefly throughout the festival with its purple donation tents located at each Camping Hub.

The tents were manned by Code Purple team members for the duration of the event, accepting donations for Kent County’s homeless population.

Code Purple members also gave away hand-made bracelets once again in exchange for donations.

Overall, the festival turned out to be quite a boon for Code Purple.

Mr. Rundle couldn’t thank the volunteers enough for their efforts picking up items in the 85-degree heat on Monday.

“I sent a Facebook post out and said I can’t believe how generous the city of Dover and the surrounding areas are,” he said. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

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