MADISON -- With 2008 having given Madison its snowiest year on record, organizers of the annual "Recycle the Warmth" drive are hoping for an avalanche of blankets and bedding for people in need early in chilly 2009.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul blanket drive slated for the weekend of January 23 to 25 will help provide warmth and comfort for local families struggling with poverty.
Share the comfort
St. Vincent de Paul is asking Dane County residents to share the comfort they enjoy with those who have less. The local charity's 17th annual Recycle the Warmth Blanket Drive will enable caring people across the county to offer their resources to neighbors in need who seek St. Vincent de Paul's help throughout the year.
The society is urging area residents to search closets and wallets to provide blankets and bedding for those who most need the warmth many take for granted.
Ralph Middlecamp, executive director of the society's District Council of Madison, said that members of the society often make home visits to people who request assistance.
"Our members will visit a family and find that kids have only their coats to use as blankets at night," Middlecamp said. "Given the state of the economy, we are concerned we may see more of this sort of situation in 2009."
Middlecamp said that even before the economic downturn, the poverty rate in Madison was higher than the national average -- nearly one in 10 families in Dane County struggle with poverty.
"Increasing numbers of local families have been coming to us for help in recent months," Middlecamp said. "We offer many forms of aid, but providing the comfort of a warm blanket is among the most direct and tangible ways our community can show its concern for local people in need."
The Recycle the Warmth Blanket Drive is a St. Vincent de Paul campaign unique to south-central Wisconsin. Each year, all bedding St. Vincent de Paul collects through this effort -- or that the society purchases with funds donors provide -- is given away during the next 12 months to people in need. The drive annually collects thousands of new and used blankets, comforters, sheets, pillowcases, and sleeping bags.
From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 23, and Saturday, Jan. 24, St. Vincent de Paul volunteers will staff Recycle the Warmth collection points at all four Madison-area Shopko stores. Shopko will offer a blanket at an attractive price to maximize the buying power of donors who would like to contribute new blankets.
Bedding will be collected at St. Vincent de Paul's five Dane County thrift stores: three in Madison, one in Stoughton, and one in Waunakee.
Nearly four dozen area religious congregations will also collect bedding for the blanket drive on Saturday, Jan. 24, and Sunday, Jan. 25. Donors may contact the society at 608-278-2920 for participating places of worship or go to www.svdpmadison.org/recyclewarmth.html
Tax-deductible donations of money are also welcome. Checks may be made payable to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and sent to: Society of St. Vincent de Paul, 1109 Jonathon Dr., Madison, WI 53713-3230.