By Anjali Patel
ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) – The first Code Purple event of the season arrives this weekend, with nighttime temperatures expected to drop below 30 degrees each night.
The Asheville Homeless Coalition released Code Purple for Friday and Saturday November 5 and 6.
However, there is currently no preferred shelter option, according to a spokesperson for the coalition. The spokesperson said they hope this will be resolved by mid-November. Typically, participating homeless shelters will voluntarily add space beyond their normal capacity on Code Purple nights.
“Basically not having a place in the community for people means they’re going to be on the streets,” said Tim McElyea, Homeless Services and Veterans Restoration Quarters for Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry (ABCCM).
ABBCM mobilizes its Code Purple vans on these designated nights and provides food and warm clothing to homeless people in the area. It also offers free trips to emergency shelters when available.
Even though the night of Thursday, November 4 was not a Code Purple night, McElyea said they had already mobilized their vans and dispatched them because it was very cold and rainy. He said it also helped them distribute supplies early to make sure people are prepared for the looming cold.
McElyea said the reason there was no shelter option this weekend was because of concerns about COVID-19, as many homeless people are not vaccinated. He said there had been several efforts to get them vaccinated, however.
Code Purple nights before Thanksgiving are rare, he added.
“Usually in November we don’t have a lot of Code Purple events,” he said.
But – he said a shelter will be available soon for future Code Purple nights.
He said the ABBCM will be opening a Code Purple men’s shelter around December 1.
McElyea added that ABCCM is always looking for volunteers to help them mobilize at Code Purple parties.
“There are tons and tons of things that we need volunteers for – putting things together like coats and blankets and sorting them out, so we can easily load our vans,” he said.
He said they also needed volunteers to help prepare meals for those in need on cold nights.
To volunteer, visit abccm.org, or dial 828-259-5300.
BeLoved Asheville has already been on the ground this week to help homeless residents prepare for the freezing cold.
Keep Asheville Warm, one of BeLoved Asheville’s outreach efforts, provides winter survival kits for people on the streets, as well as heaters and HVAC repairs for people in need in the community. and bus stop kits for schoolchildren. To donate to BeLoved Asheville’s efforts to keep people warm, click on the link below:
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