Just before the holiday rush, Saratoga Springs area organizations and businesses are taking aim at homelessness with a brand-new initiative. Shelters of Saratoga (SOS), a nonprofit that provides care and assistance to the Spa City’s growing homeless population, has kicked off its inaugural Hunger and Homelessness Week, a weeklong campaign to raise awareness and funds for organizations dealing with homelessness and food scarcity in Saratoga County. The “week” began on Saturday, November 16, with the second annual “Take One, Leave One” coat exchange; and will run through Sunday, November 24.
SOS has a pair of special events planned for the big week. A new GoPurple fundraising/awareness campaign, which begins on Wednesday, November 20, asks Saratogians and local businesses to #GoPurple (i.e. show their support by donning the color purple and making at least a $5 donation to the cause for every purple-clad participant). “That color is symbolic of homelessness and hunger,” says Royce. “So we’re asking the whole community to wear purple.” And then, on Sunday, November 24, the organization will be hosting a Faith-Based Offering initiative, during which local members of churches, synagogues and mosques can donate funds in support of Code Blue Saratoga, SOS’s winter shelter.
“We just really want to bring awareness to the services available to homeless people in the Saratoga region,” says Rosemary Royce, director of development at SOS. “We’d like to reach an audience in Saratoga that may not be aware of the actual statistics that we’re faced with.” Regarding those data, last January, 268 people, including 35 families, experienced homelessness in Saratoga County.
Even though Homelessness and Hunger Week is just a handful of days old, Royce says that SOS is already planning on bringing it back next year. “Anyone who wants to be involved, we really welcome that from a volunteer perspective,” she says.