Blanket Donated - #00001
On my way home from a White Sox game, I saw a man laying in an entryway to a business. He was curled up close to the wall with his head on his backpack. I looked back at him and something came over me, I felt the need to help. I ran home and grabbed a new blanket that I had just been given as a giveaway at the Baltimore Orioles game. I took the blanket back to him and covered him up with it. While he appreciated it very much, I felt the need to continue this effort. Chi Town Blankets was born the next day.
Blanket Donated - #00006
My Dad, Jack, Josh and I were on our way home from dinner when we saw a man and he was in a wheel chair asking for money from the people walking by. We stopped and I asked him if he would like a blanket. He replied with a 'yes'. Since we didn't have any Chi Town Blankets with us, I told him we would be right back. I ran home and grabbed one of the blankets I just received from one our generous donors, and ran back to him. The man was located only a few blocks away from my house, so it maybe took 5 minutes, roundtrip. As I was approaching him this time with the blanket, he got a big smile on his face and said, "Man I didn’t think you would come back." I said, "Of course man." We gave him a large white blanket, he looked at it for a second and said thank you. I asked him where he was from, and he said he was a 69 year old man born and raised in Chicago. I then asked where he was staying tonight and he said a location down a little further in the city. (I looked up the address he mentioned, and it is a home for elderly people.) He looked at the blanket again and said he didn’t really like the quilts at this home, so this blanket would come in handy and that it was a true blessing. He said thank you again, and again, and then said God bless. We ended the conversation with a huge smile on his face. I could really tell that he loved the blanket. I we crossed the street and started walking home, I looked back at him and he was spinning the blanket in his lap, almost with a sense of ownership of his new gift. This blanket marks the 6th donated blanket by Chi Town Blankets. I am so thankful for all of our donors that continue to send blankets, spread the word, send thoughts and prayers, and reach out. We will continue to give blankets to those who need them in the great city of Chicago.
94 more blankets to be donated to reach our goal of 100 by Christmas!
Blankets Donated: #00008 - #00020
Today was such a big day for Chi Town Blankets. We were able to donate 13 blankets to bring our total to 20, which means we are 20% of the way to our goal. It was a very cold and snowy day in Chicago, so it was great to be able to provide warmth to those who needed it. The best part of the day was definitely the conversations with those who we gave blankets to. There were two conversations that were particularly memorable.
Story #1 - The first one was with a man on Michigan Ave. I walked up to him, greeted him, and started the conversation like I usually do. "I work for an organization called Chi Town Blankets...", but then he cut me off. He replied, "I work for a company called Chi Town Handkerchiefs." We both laughed and then the conversation continued. He ended up saying that he would appreciate a blanket and I took out a large, white fleece blanket (#00020 in the gallery). He said, "Man do you have anything else, that fleece sh** doesn't do anything." I laughed and told him that of course he could have a different one. He then told me that the wind whips right through those blankets and unless you have the "half wool ones that you get in prison", those blankets aren't really worth it. Towards the end of the conversation, he started to tell me where other "homeless" people were located. Before I left, he said to me, "Hey man, you could be doing anything else in the world, but you are out here giving blankets to people. It means a lot and I really appreciate your effort." I accepted his appreciation, and continued on my way.
Story #2 - The second to last blanket of the day was a wonderful experience. I spotted a man from the other side of the street. He was tucked in an indent in the concrete wall of the exterior of a business. As I approached him, he was sitting on an object that I could not identify, his sign was next to him, with words written that I did not read. He was in a black winter coat, black pants, a black hat, black shoes, and dark grey (almost black) gloves. His coat was pulled up over his mouth, his nose and eyes were the only body parts exposed. There was one other item that I noticed right away, a white rosary that was hanging out of this coat. It looked like it was around his neck, and he had intentionally pulled it out, for show. This is just my guess, but it sure looked that way. As I stopped in front of him, I started the intro telling him what I was stopping for, and that I wanted to offer him a blanket. He immediately pulled his covered mouth out from his coat and responded that he would love a blanket. As he took he blanket, continued to thank me. I asked him if he was staying there for the night, he responded with, "I hope so, if they don't kick me out." Once again on this journey, this response put the whole project into perspective. This man was hoping he could stay in a cold, dark, indent in the wall of a building. It is so crazy how fortunate we all are, to have the homes that we have. As we continued our conversation, before I left, I thought as though since he was wearing a white rosary, that it would be appropriate to ask him if we could pray together. He responded, again right away, that he would like that. I asked for his name (Ben), and we prepared to pray. He closed his eyes, we prayed for a moment, said our goodbyes, and I continued down Michigan Ave. Now if you believe in God, you know that when two or more are gathered in His name, that He is present. I am so glad that Ben allowed me to pray with him, and I know that God will continue to watch over Ben, and keep him warmer then a blanket ever could. If you do not believe in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I know you believe in doing good for others.
This journey has continued to teach me so many lessons and I am genuinely excited to continue it. So far, every single one of the blanket recipients has said thank you. Almost all of them have participated in a worth-while conversation. Many people walk right by a person in need. I am not telling you you should give them something every time, but I can guarantee you that a smile, or a hello, will go a long way.
The outpouring of support from you all has been amazing. We have given out 20 blankets so far, and we have 10 more in inventory. We are going to crush this goal, and you all have done so much to help with that. We received some potentially very exciting news tonight, hopefully we can tell you all soon!
Blankets Donated: #00021 - #00025
Another good night of donating, 5 tonight and 25 total. Finished up Michigan Ave and will have to look for a new street to donate on. Saw one familiar face, it was Ben. He was in the same spot, same clothes, same shoes, same rosary, but one thing was different. He had his purple blanket that he received from us last night, wrapped around his legs. Our conversation was much shorter, but he once again thanked me for the blanket. Ben is a very kind soul, and we hope the blanket can assist in beating the cold weather throughout the winter. This was the first sight of one of our blankets out on the streets after donation. It is great to see that these blankets are being appreciated and used by those who need them.
We also made a big announcement today. We announced our first Community Partnership with Alpha Zeta Phi Fraternity at Upper Iowa University. This group is setting up collection locations all around campus and will be collecting blankets at this weekend's home football game as well. The best part about this, is the guys from AZP have offered to personally bring the blankets to Chicago, and participate in our donation efforts. We are so blessed to be in a partnership with such a generous group!
We are 25% of the way to our goal of 100 by Christmas. Keep the donations coming and we will keep giving. Our inventory is now down to 6, as we gave out 5 tonight and received 1 today. Thank you all so much for your generosity.
Blankets Donated: #00026 - #00040
A record breaking day for Chi Town Blankets with 15 blankets handed out. The blanket that delivered the best story was #00030. As we were walking past a McDonald's we noticed a man sitting inside right up against the window. He had a few bags, a torn piece of cardboard, and a sharpie. He was making his sign to try and attract people to help him out. As we saw this, we decided to go into the restaurant. Usually we do not take this approach but this man was alone and there were no other customers close to where he was sitting. As we walked into the restaurant, the manager came out from behind the counter and started walking towards the man. We beat the manager to the man. As we began our speech, the manager stopped and waited behind us. The man got up from his chair, was overjoyed with the blanket and gave me a "bro hug" to thank us for our gift to him. As this interaction came to an end, the man returned to his seat to continue making the sign. As I turned around, the manager did not say anything, smiled slightly, and turned around and returned to the counter. I cannot say for certain, but it seemed as though he was going to ask the man to leave until we beat him to the man. This interaction was a very powerful one. Honestly the biggest gift for that man was probably not the blanket. It was the silent reaction of the manager following the blanket donation. Allowing the man to stay in the restaurant kept him warmer, for longer than any blanket could have. Thank you to the manager at McDonalds for your decision.
Thank you again to all those who have contributed to our movement. We are 40% of the way to our goal!
We are very excited to announce that we have been officially recognized by the State of Illinois as a Non for Profit Corporation. Chi Town Blankets Inc. will continue to run as normal and all blanket donation efforts are in full force. Thank you to all of our donors for making this dream into a reality. Thank you to our Legal Team for working tirelessly to get this done before the Thanksgiving holiday. Thank you all for helping us #ZeroOutCold
Board of Directors:
We are very excited to announce that we have elected our Board of Directors for Chi Town Blankets. We have elected 8 officials to the board and will have an additional two Executive Consultants to complete our Executive Team. The board has already started working on all aspects of our Non-profit, and we have already seen an uptick in Marketing, Social Interaction, Blanket Donations and overall outreach. We are very excited to go public with the names and faces of our board very soon. Check back on all of our social media channels and our website for more information.
Today we confirmed our biggest community partner to date. We will be releasing this to the public very soon but we couldn't wait any longer to add it to our blog. We will be partnering with this group to contribute to one of their on going events. They will be providing warming bags to those in need and we were asked to contribute blankets to the bags. At first we were unsure we could provide enough blankets for them, but after collecting over 100 blankets during the Thanksgiving holiday, we are well on our way to helping them out. Check back soon on all of our social channels and our website to see the release of the Community Partnership.