Blanket Express asks for residents' help in bringing warmth to those in need
Several local business owners and community leaders are putting out a call for blankets, gloves and socks to donate to Washtenaw County residents in need of warmth this winter.
The Blanket Express, which is in its 10th year, delivers around 3,000 blankets each holiday season and throughout the year.
Blanket Express’s focus has been on eastern Washtenaw County, though the group has delivered to families throughout the county and as far as away as New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina victims.
The big delivery this year will come Friday, Dec. 21. A float carrying Santa leaves from the Superior Township Hall around 11:30 a.m., then stops at Sidetrack to pick up blankets. Santa and the float then head down Michigan Avenue to the Brown Chapel where the blankets are distributed at the chapel’s soup program.
Towler underscored that the group is asking for new, not used blankets, which can be found for as little as $5, she said.
“We want people to be able to smell the freshness of a nice, clean, new blanket,” she said.
Towler said there is a special need for baby blankets. Blanket Express also receives some hand-crocheted items that are delivered to residents at local nursing homes.
“They love the real soft blankets that we give them,” Towler said.
Aside from the drop points, Towler said Blanket Express also personalizes their efforts and delivers blankets to any family they know needs blankets, socks or gloves. She said local school districts sometimes ask for a donation for kids who need socks or gloves, or someone in the community will alert Blanket Express to a family that could use blankets.
Blanket Express also partners with other groups doing other charitable work in the area, such as the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department and Meijer’s "Shop With A Cop Program.”
When a lice outbreak hit local school districts and parents were forced to dispose of their kids’ blankets and clothing, Blanket Express helped out families who needed assistance.
The effort started 10 years ago when Towler’s security company responded to a serious crime in a low-income neighborhood during a winter month. She recalled that all the residents were wrapped in tattered blankets and had worn-out socks.
“When I got home in my nice, warm bed, I realized I take for granted that I have all these warm blankets. It brought tears to my eyes,” she said.
Residents wishing to donate blankets, socks or gloves can do so at the Superior Township Hall, at the corner of Cherry Hill and North Prospect; Sidetrack, 56 E. Cross St. in Ypsilanti; or the Ypsilanti Township Hall, 7200 S. Huron River Drive.
Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter for AnnArbor.com.