Spreading Warmth During a Chilling February
The group, Coffee and Blankets, recently set up a donation drive on Lake Street near the 4th Street bus station, not far from other services for those without shelter in the Biggest Little City.
They propped up two folding tables for hot drinks and granola bars. A tarp was set on the ground covered with blankets and clothing items.
“I personally decided to do it because I don't like being cold,” Reno resident Brent Woodley said of creating the group with his friends last year and hosting several similar events since then. “I don't usually do any winter sports … I pretty much hibernate in the winter and not everyone has that luxury, to be able to go into their home and get under a bunch of blankets. So I just figured, for all the people that don't have that option to actually a have place to be warm and comfortable, maybe we can help them a little bit.” he said.
Helping People Battle the Winter
Alongside the hot drinks, Coffee and Blankets Reno also hosted a warm clothing and accessory donation drive. On the blue tarp there were jackets, fleece blankets, shoes, and socks. However, this isn’t good enough for Woodley. He says that he would like to see more funding go towards helping people without shelter get by during the winter.
“For the most part, I would like to see developers look at doing small-tiny houses, affordable living, maybe even having warm shelters for the winter months. Our shelters are totally inundated with people. They cannot keep up with the demand. So mainly, I would like to see just more effort and more...funding for things that seem like simple solutions but all they really need is actions,” Woodley said.
To acquire the necessary items to give to people, Coffee and Blankets Reno collects donations from people dropping off clothing at their events, including blanket drives. Some volunteers donate items from their own homes. Woodley calls himself and the other volunteers who participate in this form of direct action, “Warmth Warriors.”
Plans for a Mobile Cart
Woodley asks people who stop by the table about their circumstances. He says some people only expect to be without shelter for a month, while others fear they will be much longer. He says that people need resources to break the cycle of homelessness. Woodley wants to explore options to help people get back on their feet.
“A lot of what they (people living on the streets) say is that they just don't have access to jobs, clothing for a job interview, an email address, a PO Box, they don't have the things that are required to apply for a job. So that's one thing in the future we might look at doing is trying to help get people established with an actual location and some contact information so they can apply for work,” he said.
Before winter ends, Woodley wants to transition into a mobile cart and deliver coffee to people during especially cold times like early morning and late evenings. Woodley’s agenda doesn’t stop there. During the summer, he wants to continue helping the community by delivering cold water to people.