By Diane Toomey
The Central and Southeastern Washington chapter of the Red Cross had a challenge on their hands: several hundred non-standard blankets that could not be used in shelters. The search to find new homes for the blankets had gone on sporadically for some time. A few were given away here, a few there, without putting much of a dent in the overall inventory. That is, until a community event presented both opportunity and genuine need.
“Building A Dream” took place on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to fight hunger and homelessness in Washington’s Tri-Cities, and Red Cross volunteers were eager to participate.
Red Cross chapter volunteers joined several local organizations on Monday, January 18, 2021 to personally distribute their inventory of blankets. Hundreds of cars wrapped around the MLK Center in Pasco, WA where food, miscellaneous essentials, and thousands of dollars’ worth of gift cards were handed out to over 400 families.
Michele Roth, Executive Director of the Central and Southeastern chapter, was joined by volunteers, Marie Hafez and Chelsea Olivas, and board members Brian Opitz, Brian Swearingen, and Westin Mick. She said, “It was great to be part of a community event. Due to COVID-19, board members have had fewer opportunities to interact directly with the community. So much of their work has been behind the scenes.”
She added, “There is such a great need in the community that the event started a half an hour early, due to the large number of vehicles already lined up.”
HAPO Credit Union was the driving force behind the event, gathering donations and local corporate partnerships to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Day of Service and his legacy.
Now every last blanket has a new home.