Moose members support Code Purple Sanctuary

By Tony E. Windsor

Members of a local non-profit fraternal organization visited a special emergency shelter in Seaford this past winter and immediately became a supporter. Barry Spicer, trustee and family activities committee chairman for the Seaford Moose Family Center Lodge #1728, said he was touched by what he saw when stopping by a Code Purple Winter Sanctuary located at the Stein Highway Church of God.

The shelter is operated out of the church's daycare facility and is made available when temperatures reach 32 degrees or lower. Vikki Prettyman, town administrator for the Town of Blades, volunteers her time as a Code Purple dinner and community coordinator for the Love, Inc., organization.

The Code Purple shelters operate across Delaware, including other locations in Sussex County. Prettyman said there is another Code Purple location at the Gateway Fellowship Church in Bridgeville that caters to women and children. She said there will also be a Laurel location opening next winter at the Laurel Nazarene Church.

She said when the weather gets cold those people who are unsheltered, or homeless can come to the Stein Highway Church of God location. They are able to have dinner and then women and children are transported by volunteer bus service to the Bridgeville location. The shelters operate from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. when the temperatures drop.

It was during one of the frigid nights this past winter that Barry Spicer had just finished serving a special all-u-can-eat Fish Fry at the Moose Lodge. With left over fish and other food, he looked for a place to donate the items. He was told about the Seaford Code Purple Shelter and packed up the food and went over.

"When I got to the shelter there were no less than 30 or 35 people there," he said. "There were families and children, it really touched my heart to see how this place had been made available to them. It is so important when the weather gets bad that people have a place to go. I really appreciate what Code Purple is doing locally."

Spicer was so impressed that he went back to his colleagues at the Moose and they organized a special all-u-can-eat fundraiser dinner to support Code Purple. The dinner was held on March 22, and was so successful the Moose ran out of food. In all, the organization raised $2,000 for Code Purple and also offered future opportunities for providing food for the shelter.

On Tuesday, April 14, the Moose presented the check to Prettyman. During the presentation she told the Moose members who were gathered just how much the support means to the Code Purple recipients.

"The Code Purple project is a passion for me," she said. "I love what we can do for people who otherwise may find themselves in life threatening conditions when the winter sets in. You cannot imagine what it meant to the people at Code Purple the night that the Moose brought hot fish to the sanctuary. They were so appreciative. I am overwhelmed at this $2,000 donation. Thank you so much."

The Homeless Planning Council of Delaware and the Sussex County Homeless Coalition, along with Love, Inc., work together to ensure that people in need are able to be connected with the local Code Purple sanctuaries throughout Sussex County. When the weather begins turning cold, the promotions begin to alert unsheltered and homeless people to the shelters.

In March, the Sussex County Homeless Coalition posted on its Facebook page about the success of this year's initiative, but also warned about the bigger picture regarding the issue of homelessness in the county.

"Sussex County Code Purple and Cold Weather Shelters are averaging 90+ roofless homeless a night. This number does not include those who are living with family/friends or in a motel. These are the roofless homeless who are coming into our shelters with no other form of shelter. These numbers do not include 30-day shelters or transitional houses or other forms of shelters in Sussex. This number does not include those who will not come in off the street. (Several of the ministries are tracking these folks as closely as they can, but for reasons you and I might not ever comprehend, they have not yet been successful encouraging some of the area homeless to come in for warmth). This number reflects only the number of roofless homeless on average seeking shelter at Sussex County Code Purple and Cold Weather Shelters. To put it in perspective, the other night Kent County Code Purple announced they had 55 guests and reported it was the highest tracked number coming into their Code Purple to date.

We are all encouraged to collaborate for a better solution that looks at a bigger picture. Let us take this burden on together for with the unified gifts and talent we have here in Sussex, we have all the resources we need at our finger tips, we just need to piece them together."

The Seaford Moose has now volunteered its support as one additional piece to join the mission of Code Purple in Seaford.

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