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Organizations mobilize to help the homeless for 1st Code Purple night of season

By Anjali Patel

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    ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) — The first Code Purple event of the season is coming this weekend, with night-time temperatures forecasted to drop below 30 degrees each night.

The Asheville Homeless Coalition issued the Code Purple for Friday and Saturday, Nov. 5 and 6.

However, there is currently not a go-to shelter option, according to a spokesperson with the coalition. The spokesperson said they hope to have that sorted out by mid-November. Typically, participating homeless shelters voluntarily add space beyond their normal capacity on Code Purple nights.

“Basically, not having a place in the community for folks to go means they’re going to be on the street,” said Tim McElyea, Homeless Services and Veterans Restoration Quarters for Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry (ABCCM).

ABBCM mobilizes its Code Purple vans on those designated nights and offers food and warm clothing to homeless people in the area. It also offers free rides to emergency shelters when they’re available.

Even though the night of Thursday, Nov. 4, was not a Code Purple night, McElyea said they already mobilized their vans and sent them out, since it was very cold and rainy. He said this also helped them distribute supplies early to ensure people are prepared for the impending cold.

McElyea said the reason there’s no shelter option this weekend is because of COVID-19 concerns, as many homeless people are unvaccinated. He said there have been several efforts to get them vaccinated, though.

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 shelter will be available soon for future Code Purple nights.

He said ABBCM is going to open a Code Purple shelter for men around Dec. 1.

McElyea added that ABCCM is always looking for volunteers to help them mobilize on Code Purple nights.

“There’s tons and tons of stuff we need volunteers for — getting stuff together like coats and blankets and getting them all sorted, so we can easily load our vans,” he said.

He said they also need volunteers to help pack meals for people in need on cold nights.

To volunteer, visit abccm.org, or call 828-259-5300.

BeLoved Asheville has already been on the ground this week helping homeless residents prepare for the bitter cold.

Keep Asheville Warm, one of BeLoved Asheville’s outreach efforts, supplies Winter Survival Kits for those on the streets, along with heaters and HVAC repair for people in need in the community and bus stop kits for school children. To donate to BeLoved Asheville’s efforts to keep people warm, click the link below:

belovedasheville.com/get-involved

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