This weekend, we enter the coldest spell of the season, so far, with temperatures forecast to hit zero degrees on Tuesday. And sadly there are people who will spend the hours when it is zero degrees being cold. They may live outside and “sleep rough” under a bridge or in an alley. They may be staying in a shelter or temporary housing in an old building with drafts and limited bedding. They might in their own apartment or house, huddled under all of the blankets available with no cash available to buy more. Some will have to walk in the zero degrees to get to work or school, to catch a bus or meet their ride. Gloves, hats and scarves may not be available.
I have a vehicle so I’ve had the luxury of not having to bundle up if I didn’t feel like it. I tend to wear those little stretchy gloves from discount stores because they allow me to drive – I have them shoved everywhere – in my purse, my glove box (ha!), in all of my pockets. But they aren’t particularly warm when I have to actually be outside in temps below 20, say to shovel a sidewalk. And it is easy to lose them. So I have a lot of gloves. I can’t remember not having a pair of gloves. Can you?
So I walked around the house to see just how much winter gear I have. Just me, not Ledcat.
- 5 hats
- 7 scarves
- 11 gloves (11 gloves, not pairs – I have at least 3 stray single gloves, all left hands)
We have over 2 dozen blankets and comforters, many of which are downcycled to pet bedding when they get a little worn and torn. A lot of those blankets are throws that we use to stay warm and avoid turning up the heat. But we live in a warm house with plenty of clothing and we could turn up the heat if we needed to do so. We can also buy a new blanket when it is needed.
Friday, I had a meeting with the Gay and Lesbian Community Center (GLCC) and one of the topics was the ongoing “Winter Gear” drive which started in October. So far, you’ve donated more than 1200 items – coats, blankets, clothing – as well as personal care products, chemical hand warmers and even pads to place under sleeping bags. Heading into Christmas Day, we fell 25 blankets short of our goal, but had collected nearly three times as many coats as we originally hoped.
Donated items are distributed to people who walk-in as well as with partner organizations. The GLCC estimates that they need 30-40 blankets a week to meet demand. That’s for people walking in who need a blanket. Blankets are often lost or misplaced when someone doesn’t have stable housing. Frequently, they are stolen by someone who is also cold. Or perhaps someone’s partner is sick and needs the available blankets while they recover. People use blankets to cover drafty windows.
GLCC volunteers are often handing out hats, gloves and scarves to people who walk in to the GLCC for other reasons, people of all ages.
You can help by donating these warm items to support your neighbors. The most requested items are:
**Gently used items are welcome, but please launder as the GLCC does not have the capacity to wash items.
Items can be donated at 210 Grant Street, Lower Level in Downtown Pittsburgh, Monday to Saturday from 1 PM – 8 PM. Please call 412-422-0114 to let the desk volunteer know you are coming; typically someone can meet you at the curb so you don’t have to park. You can also volunteer to help sort and organize donations.
If you have a few moments to reflect, take a quick tally of your own “winter gear” and see if you can spare items for your neighbors. That’s a definite way to feel warm this bitter cold weekend.