Community Blanket Drive hits 10th year

Posted: November 2, 2013

The Winchester Star

Winchester — The annual Community Blanket Drive has reached the decade mark, bringing a little extra warmth to the area.

The drive collects new blankets for local nonprofit organizations that help people in need through the cold months, said Sandi Webster, event coordinator.

Faithworks, the nonprofit agency taking over the drive this year, will collect new and handmade blankets, sleeping bags, comforters, throws and fleece wraps, and pillows from Sunday to Nov. 9 said Webster, a volunteer with the group.

“A lot of the agencies are on limited budgets, so this is one thing they don’t have to purchase,” she said.

People can also donate money, which will be used to purchase the most needed items, she said. If the drive receives enough blankets to meet immediate needs, the money is saved and used for later requests.

Returning this year will be a one-day drop-off event, which returns to the roots of the drive when creators Steve and Leslie Lobell started it, Webster said. It will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Walmart store at 2350 S. Pleasant Valley Road.

“We wanted to do something different for the 10th anniversary,” she said. “The last three years, we haven’t done a one-day big event, just drop-off locations.”

The items will be donated to area agencies, including the Salvation Army, the Congregational-Community Action Project, American Red Cross, Winchester Rescue Mission, The Laurel Center, the Winchester Area Temporary Thermal Shelter (WATTS), Blue Ridge Hospice and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Winchester Medical Center.

The blankets donated to the Top of Virginia Chapter of the American Red Cross are taken to the scenes of fires or used in shelters after natural disasters, said Lorrie Rhoton, disaster manager for the chapter.

“When we go to house fires in the winter time, we always have blankets with us to cover up clients. Several times they don’t even have coats,” she said.

When volunteers are outside dealing with situations in the winter, the blankets are not just a help but a necessity, she said. So having the blankets donated allows the organization to spend money on other resources to help people.

Rhoton said she appreciates the generosity of the community and the range of items donated. “People buy the blankets and they range in all sizes, shapes, and thickness. The community goes all-out to buy these blankets.”

Throughout the week, blanket donation boxes will be available at these locations: Total Image/Workingman’s Store, 325 W. Boscawen St.; Curves, 255 Fairfax Pike (Va. 277), Stephens City; Rugs Direct, 116 Featherbed Lane; White Properties of Winchester, 1520 Commerce St., Suite A; and the Chick-fil-A restaurants on Pleasant Valley Road and in the Rutherford Crossing shopping center on Martinsburg Pike (U.S. 11).

Last year’s drive brought in about 1,800 blankets — more than the 2011 donations — but still hasn’t bounced back from 2010, when more than 3,000 bedding items were collected, Webster said.

This year, she hopes to double the donations from 2012 to reach even more people.

Monetary donations can be sent to Faithworks, 26 W. Boscawen St. Suite A201, Winchester, Va. 22601.

Information

The 10th annual Community Blanket Drive will be held from Sunday to Nov. 9, with drop-off locations throughout the area. A one-day drop-off will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Walmart store on Pleasant Valley Road.

For more information, contact Faithworks at 540-313-7682 or sandi@faithworksinc.org.

— Contact Laura McFarland at lmcfarland@winchesterstar.com