a special message from the director of
Upper Room of Erie, a homeless shelter

My Sunny Saturday in Erie, the Blizzard of Blankets donor event.

My first stop on “Blizzard of Blanket” Saturday is a visit to Julie at Erie’s Sidewalk Café to set up the usual coffee and sandwich tab for today’s volunteers. Then I head across the street to Perry Square and its much loved gazebo where for the next six hours we will be receiving donated blankets and winter clothes.

We start slowly. First we put up our banner (Blizzard of Blankets), then we set up our rolling and folding table as we wait for our first customer. It starts slowly at first, then they come faster. A father and young twins, boy and girl, bring matching sleeping bags they have outgrown; a widow brings a melancholy gift--some of her late husband’s winter coats. She says she’s glad that some needy persons will enjoy them.

Soon the pile grows nicely. Blankets here, clothing over there. We roll and tie the blankets to make them easier to handle. The clothing goes into bags. At the end of the day we’ll pile the day’s collection into our vehicles and haul them a few blocks away to the shelter.

The first TV crew arrives about 11:00 and wants shots of the people as they bring in their donations and of my telling the camera why we choose to do this every year and if it makes us feel good. Truth to tell, it does make us feel good. Very good.

After lunch and another TV crew, the donations start coming in faster. Perhaps it is the glorious weather we’re enjoying. We’re busy now, meeting donors and answering questions, sorting clothes, and rolling blankets.

The pile grows, and before we know it our time is up. We end our day having met almost 80 donors (we counted). We’ve collected a nice pile of blankets. Not as many as other years perhaps, but we’re happy. We also got a lot of winter clothing, a potential volunteer or two, and several hundred dollars in small bills. Its been a good day. Next week we’ll be giving them away.

And yes, we’ll do it again next year.

Tom Schlaudecker
Nov 24, 2012

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