Giving Holiday Warmth

With clothing, shelter and more, countless local organizations join in the spirit of the season, and they welcome your participation

The holiday season is time to give thanks for what we have and give back to our friends, neighbors, and communities. Local churches, shelters, businesses, and offices join in this tradition by hosting annual holiday drives to contribute toys, funds and clothing and more to those in need. The following list is just a small portion of the endeavors and initiatives in the area that aim to care for community members during the winter season. Contact these organizations to find out ways you can help.

Division of State Service Centers features the Adopt-A-Family program, where sponsors anonymously donate gift certificates to children, head-of-households, and seniors living in poverty. The certificates go toward purchasing holiday gifts for the family. To participate, call New Castle County Adopt-A-Family at 792-9538 or Kent/Sussex County Adopt-A-Family at 424-7260.

The Salvation Army Angel Tree is a nationwide program that can be found locally at Christiana Mall and Concord Mall through Dec. 14 (except Thanksgiving and Sundays). Shoppers pick a name of a child and are given that child’s wish list from which the donor picks a gift, which is then given to that child or children to open on Christmas morning. If you want to make a monetary donation to the Salvation Army, the Red Kettle Campaign is perhaps the most visible and well-known holiday tradition. It runs locally now through Dec. 24 (excluding Sundays). You can find volunteers ringing bells and collecting donations outside supermarkets, at malls and on street corners. Many churches and other organizations also sponsor Angel Tree programs. Check with your local house of worship to see if it is a participant.

Marine Toys for Tots in Wilmington donates new toys to local agencies and non-profit organizations who then deliver the toys to families in need by Christmas Day. The campaign runs through Dec. 20. For those interested in volunteering, hosting an event, or becoming a toy drop-off site, contact Toys for Tots Coordinator Sgt. Levandoski at Wilmingtont4t@usmc.mil. Toys for Tots believes in playing an active role in the development of our nation’s future and contributing to a better community through its children.

Drop off your coat at a Winter Clothing Drive
Coat Drives and Winter Clothing Drives are among the more popular ways to help families and children in need. Schools, churches, grocery stores, banks and organizations hold Coat Drives. Coats, sweaters, mittens, gloves, hats and more are donated by individuals and then given to less fortunate members of our community. 

Childcare is one of the many services provided by the Ministry of Caring and its founder, Brother Ronald. Photo Joe del Tufo

Community Powered Federal Credit Union is taking part in the One Warm Coat initiative again this year. A representative says they will accept warm winter coats at each of their branches (except MLK Boulevard). You will find a donation box when you walk through the front door. Bring your donation to one of the following branches: Bear, 1758 Pulaski Hwy; Newark, 401 Eagle Run Rd.; Wilmington, 1815 Newport Gap Pike; and New Castle, 4 Quigley Blvd. One Warm Coat also gives members of the community opportunities to hold a coat drive, for those interested in starting their own initiative.

The Clothing Bank of Delaware, through Friendship House, collects and distributes donated clothing to individuals and families while creating volunteer opportunities for organizations, businesses and individuals. Donations of clothing, bedding, linens and leather goods will be accepted at The Clothing Bank of Delaware, 1603 Jessup St., Suite 3, Wilmington, from Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The Ministry of Caring is once again collecting gently used coats, hats, gloves, and scarves in adult and children sizes through Operation Overcoat. Local businesses collect clothing and the Ministry of Caring then distributes them to homeless people and others in need. To make a donation or set up a collection point, such as your workplace, call 652-5523 or email mail@ministryofcaring.org.

Give the gift of a warm home

Heating a home during the cold months can be costly, especially when winter temperatures drop quickly and for long periods. Some local companies are covering needy families’ heating bills as well as the cost of maintenance on their heating systems through generous initiatives.

With Delmarva Power’s Gift of Energy (available in Delaware and Maryland), you can make a payment toward a friend or family member’s energy bill. Your Gift of Energy will appear on a future bill as a credit to the recipient’s account. In addition, Delmarva’s Good Neighbor Energy Fund (also available in Maryland and Delaware) partners with the Salvation Army to offer energy assistance to low-income customers. Delmarva will match $1 for every $3 donated, up to $70,000, which will go to helping families with their energy bills.

To make a donation, contact Delmarva Power online at delmarva.com or make a payment in person at one of their locations: New Castle Regional Office, Rt. 273 & Eagle Run Rd., Newark; Wilmington, 630 Martin Luther King Blvd.; Millsboro, 700 E. Dupont Hwy.

Each year, Horizon Services of Delaware holds its annual Warm the Heart initiative where it repairs or replaces a damaged heating system, free of charge, for a local low-income family or a family with financial difficulties. This heartwarming, employee-founded endeavor has kept 128 families warm since 2005. For more information, call 200-4266 or, to nominate an applicant, complete the entry form at warmtheheart.org.

G. Fedale Roofing and Siding awards local homeowners in need with a new roof via its Roofs From the Heart Foundation. Check out the company’s Facebook page (facebook.com/FedaleRoof/) for the latest information regarding this endeavor.

Local shelters offer warmth during cold weather

Delaware homeless shelters are opening their doors to welcome those without a place to go during Code Purple evenings. Code Purple is the movement the State of Delaware initiated to help those who are homeless to find a safe and warm place to spend the night indoors when the temperature and wind chill drops below 32 degrees F.

Friendship House in Newark remains open during Code Purple nights. Participating Code Purple sanctuaries in Newark vary and registration is necessary to enter. To register, visit 69 E. Main St. In Wilmington, the Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew opens its doors during Code Purple evenings from 4 to 8:30 and reopens at 6 the following morning. Guests in need can arrive at 719 N. Shipley St., at the corner of 8th and Shipley.

The Salvation Army in Wilmington provides overnight emergency housing on Code Purple nights for up to 80 people. When weather conditions are met, Code Purple signs will be posted at the entrances. Male guests enter through the main entrance at 400 N. Orange St., and female guests enter through the entrance at 104 West 5th St. For emergency housing information, call 472-0750.

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