Cape Gazette
http://capegazette.villagesoup.com/p/1096599

Cape Region residents help homeless

Troop 7 sets up storage unit for donated items
By Melissa Steele | Jan 01, 2014
Photo by: Melissa Steele Cpl. Matthew Blakeman stands in a storage unit recently donated to Troop 7 that now holds neatly stacked shelves and bins of items for those in need.

An outpouring of food, clothes and supplies for homeless people in the Cape Region has overwhelmed officers at Troop 7 in Lewes.

“I just want to thank everyone for everything they've donated,” said Cpl. Matthew Blakeman.

For a couple of years now, Blakeman and Cadet Julius Young have worked together to help a group of 10 homeless people living in tents off of Route 1. The number of people in the small community has more than doubled since the two first started checking in on the group.

After a Cape Gazette story published over Thanksgiving, Blakeman said donations have poured into Troop 7.

So much, the Troop's basement conference room had become a make-shift storage area.

But with the help of a recent donation of a storage unit by Jeff Burton at American Portable Storage, Blakeman and Young have been able to inventory and store the items in an outdoor storage unit.

“People have come by with food, clothing and supplies,” Blakeman said. “The pod has been a huge help.”

Still, the corner of Troop 7's conference room continues to grow with items that people in the community have dropped off. Blakeman said he and Young inventory the items before placing them in the outside storage unit.

Inside the unit, items are neatly stacked on shelves and organized in bins. There are pants, socks, underwear, blankets, toothpaste, soap and numerous other items. Anyone in need is welcome to the items, Blakeman said. A check-out sheet keeps track of who is taking what items, just to make sure no one abuses the system, he said.

Blakeman said they still welcome donations, but people should contact him through email first so they have a heads up of what's coming, especially if it involves food.

“Some people have brought home-cooked meals to the Troop and down to the people where they are staying,” Blakeman said. “Unfortunately, they don't have a way to heat up or store the meals where they live, and the food goes to waste.”

Blakeman said he and Young continue to work together to help provide items to homeless people in the Cape Region and beyond. With the storage unit in working order, he said, they hope to get a small trailer that they can stock and take throughout Sussex County to help other people.

Young has reached out to homeless communities in Seaford, Lincoln and other Sussex County areas through his outreach program, Faith and Hope Restored.

“We're hoping to get a trailer so that we can help people elsewhere in the county,” Blakeman said. “There's definitely a need, especially in the western part of the county.”

Donations are welcome, and anyone interested can contact Blakeman at his email: Matthew. Blakeman@state.de.us.

Blakeman said he appreciates everyone who has donated, and he apologizes to anyone who has contacted him, but to whom he has not yet been able to respond.

“The whole thing has been overwhelming,” he said. “We've received so many donations. I want to thank everyone for what they've given.”

The storage unit, donated by Jeff Burton at American Portable Storage, sits in the parking lot of Troop 7. (Photo by: Melissa Steele)
Plastic bins are needed to help store all the items Troop 7 has received, says Cpl. Matthew Blakeman. (Photo by: Melissa Steele)
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