‘Friendsgiving’ event collects donations for homeless as ‘Code Blue’ approaches

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The event is hosted by folk trio The Brothers Blue

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — It’s not an “old time tradition” yet, but the music is “old timey.”

The fourth annual “Friendsgiving – A Benefit for the Homeless” took place at Abilene Bar and Lounge in Rochester this weekend.

It’s hosted by The Brothers Blue, a trio of musicians made up Matty Blue, Benny Blue, and Charlie Blue (in order of appearance). They donate their time every year, as do the other musicians: Mike Brown, Jungle Steve, The Travis Prinzi Band, Sarah Eide, and Greg Klyma.

Friendsgiving specifically supports the “Code Blue Committee” of the Western New York Coalition for the Homeless. It’s a group of service providers that work with agencies throughout Western New York, and Code Blue goes into effect for shelters when the temperature dipped below a certain point.

Every year they collect donations of clean underwear, socks and whatever toiletries are needed. And every year, they hold a beard contest, with prizes ranging to beard oil to free music. Our own Dan Gross even had a strong showing:

They also raised $1,400 for the Coalition.

Gorry, a Buffalo native, said recent changes to the Code Blue mandate have made a big difference.

“It’s 32 degrees and below,” Gorry said. “That was from Governor Cuomo a few years ago, and it made a big difference. In Buffalo we could only open our shelters when it hit 15 degrees and below, and it was pretty awful when it was 20 degrees and people weren’t going to have a warm place to stay that night.”

That change helped shelters gain funding and keep them open throughout the winter.

According to Gorry, clean underwear is always a need for the homeless, and aren’t usually a part of typical clothing drives. Socks are always in demand as well, they are especially needed this time of year.

“It’s really during the winter, time to have dry feet,” Gorry said. “More than warm feet; dry feet really make a big difference. Hypothermia and frostbite go hand in hand with being wet.”

Gorry also said that chap stick and hand lotion are also in big demand. While Code Blue is a situation no one wants to be in, it does have a silver lining.

“Usually during Code Blue season we can find people a lot easier,” Gorry said. “So we take the opportunity to give people a chance to have a house. During Code Blue we find that people move into apartments permanently and aren’t there the following year.”

“It’s incredible,” Gorry said. “We really couldn’t do the work we do without volunteers and people donating money, time, and goods.”

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