- Associated Press - Thursday, January 8, 2015

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - A Delaware man who wanted to give a group of homeless people a special Christmas gift - a warm bed and a hot shower in a luxury hotel suite - said he was thwarted at the last minute by the hotel he picked.

Matt Senge of Newark said he booked a two-bedroom suite at the Hotel du Pont in downtown Wilmington for $639 on Christmas night, and told hotel managers and the reservation clerk that the suite was a gift to five homeless people who were living under a bridge.

Senge, founder of Road to Redemption Ministries in Wilmington and Dover, said the hotel staff members he spoke to were enthusiastic and supportive, and that he later got an email confirmation about the room.

So he put a red bow on a printout of the email and took it to the homeless people - a woman, her two children and two men - saying the group was overwhelmed by the surprise.

“Everything was great,” Senge told WDEL-AM, (https://bit.ly/1yEKsoR ). “They were given hope that night.”

But three hours before check-in, Senge said the hotel called to cancel the reservation, citing safety concerns for the other hotel guests.

“He said verbatim: ‘What if one of those people rapes or robs one of my guests?’” Senge said. “I was devastated.”

Hotel spokesman Brendan McEvoy said the reservation was cancelled because the homeless people wouldn’t have proper identification.

“We talked, you know, internally with our staff here, and again, I think all of us were purely focused on the safety of our hotel guests, and that was why the decision was made,” he said. “The discussion was purely focused on hotel safety.”

McEvoy declined to comment on whether a hotel staff member made the statement about concerns about rape or robbery.

Senge said the people he was helping do have proper identification and that he was never given that reason for the cancellation. He said he was hoping for a little more understanding.

“What we need to realize is some of us are a paycheck away from being in their situation,” he said. “How can we, in this society, live with a conscious that says ‘That’s OK.’”

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Information from: WDEL-AM, https://www.wdel.com/


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