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  • The Blanket Is Life Blankets for the homeless

    12 min read

    Blankets for the homeless man sleeping on a bench in street park

    Blankets for the Homeless and the less fortunate

    14.3 million people, The amount of unemployed people in South Africa and facing homelessness. That is a staggering 34% of the population.

    Blankets for the homeless kids on a water wheel pump

    Kobo ke bophelo – "the blanket is life" - A famous old Lesotho saying in a region where the blanket is life.

    The dream to change just one life and the rest will come

    As a small business, we wanted to make the most significant impact we could. We realize this can seem an insurmountable task and a little overwhelming, but we decided that we wanted to make a difference, no matter how small the impact. We also believed that we could make a more significant impact just by starting as time went on.   

    We wanted to make the most significant impact we could with what we had at our disposal. We worked with our mill in South Africa to develop a project that would have the most significant positive impact we could.

    Over 5 million people are without clean drinking water in South Africa and Lesotho. All too often, children are given the family task of walking for miles every day to collect water. With the dangers of water-borne disease and the time wasted it takes to collect the water children, and their communities are having their future disappear.

    We believed by freeing up this time obligation and supplying schools in the underserved area with fresh, clean water, we could create a knock-on effect, help just one child to reach their full potential, and you have the opportunity to change the world. 

    Dream with me for just one second. A dream that changes the life trajectory of just one child, now imagine that child grows up to be another Nelson Mandela or a Desmond Tutu, or someone who helps change the world. I get it. It's a lofty dream, but you fail if you don't try.

    One Blanket = 30 kids with fresh, clean water for a month

    Blankets for the homeless One Blanket at a Time

    Blankets are an integral part of life. From royalty right down to the destitute, every person needs the warmth that blankets provide.

    In Sotho the national language there is a saying Kobo Ke Bophelo which mean the blanket is life, and to many around the world the blanket is the only thing they have that separates them from the elements. 

    It is not just to keep you warm but to provide a degree of comfort as well. Wrapped up in this is the security of hope for a more promising tomorrow, a necessary motivator in times of desperation and need. The destitute and homeless are dependent on blankets to see through the day and keep their hope alive.

    There is an old saying, "Life happens…" which has been soiled by replacing "life" with profanity.

    Regardless of this drop in standards, the idea remains the same. We cannot tell exactly how life will turn out for us; whether we will live in a mansion on the hill or be drawn into squalor, surviving on the bare minimum, or if we live in comfort but lose everything in a natural disaster and have to rely on the good grace of others to make ends meet.

    No person chooses to be homeless or destitute. There are always reasons behind the hardships that so many people face daily. Blankets provide hope and a way forward.

    Blankets for the Homeless: Where there is hope…

    Homeless people may have lost everything over a period or in an instant, and it is at this point in life, the realization of the importance of hope comes to light. When hope is lost, all is lost. The majority of destitute or homeless people see each day through because they have hope, the hope of a brighter tomorrow.

    A bottle of freshwater, a fast-food meal, a warm piece of clothing, perhaps a blanket or some type of waterproofing all contribute to keeping hope alive.

    There are both government and non-governmental agencies or organizations that tend to the needs of the destitute, but there are many private companies, large and small, that have adopted community outreach programs into their company structure. 

    One such company is Thula Tula who have dug deep to provide the greatest essential commodity the world over, clean drinking water, to the forgotten communities of Lesotho and South Africa.

    Over five million people do not have access to clean drinking water in this geographical area, and one Thula Tula blanket translates to 30 children having access to clean water.

    Blankets for the homless thula-tula water for africa solutions kids peering out a wooden window

    The Playpump solution.

    An ingenious concept on the outside

    In 2006 the US President, George Bush, undertook a $60m Aid relief plan to provide clean water to communities without infrastructure for water provision. The US government partnered with Playpumps, who championed an ingenious concept of capitalizing on the play energy of children.

    Turning play in water, what could go wrong

    In their play area, the children's roundabouts were directly connected to borehole water pumps and the more the children played, the more water would be pumped into nearby reservoirs.


    Lack of funding 

    By 2008 the project had gained momentum, and over 1000 Playpumps had been installed, but sadly in 2010, the project was abandoned due to lack of funds. Most of the pumps fell into a state of disrepair. Thula Tula, among other private companies, took up the reigns and began repairing and maintaining the Playpumps so the communities would still have clean water.

    Maintenance was key to the project

    To drive the maintenance and general upkeep of the Playpumps, Thula Tula generates the necessary funds from their blanket sales, where a single blanket sale helps to provide water for up to 30 children. Donations for the cause are gladly appreciated. To see what Playpumps is all about, view this video.  

    Blankets for the homeless  providing water for the less fortunate

    Blankets and the homeless.

    People always need warmth, and the homeless are most affected as many have to brave the elements without the benefit of a home or structure that insulates their living or sleeping area. Because people are homeless, we the fortunate presume that they are naturally dirty because they are deprived of the luxury of bathroom and laundry facilities to maintain their personal hygiene.

    This borders on harsh criticism and is mostly untruth because homeless people remain resourceful, and many do consider their personal hygiene a priority. Homeless shelters provide bathing facilities, hot meals, and a clean, warm bed to sleep in.

    Many shelters depend on volunteers and donations from private people. This makes it possible for every person to contribute directly to alleviating the plight of the homeless without the need to "toss a coin to beggars on the street.

    " The "haves" are sceptical about cash handouts to the "have nots" on the street because of rampant drug and alcohol abuse among these homeless and destitute people.

    Drug and alcohol use is a psychological coping mechanism to suppress or contain experienced trauma and should be viewed as a mental illness and not as a destructive, selfish act.

    Many homeless people suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental illnesses like depression. These mental illnesses affect people from all walks of life, and sadly those who don't have a sound support structure may end up being unable to hold a job and subsequently end up on the street.

    Each homeless case is different, but a common theme to homelessness is the lack of wage-earning opportunities or the inability to take up employment. The overwhelming majority of people who find themselves in "destitute situations" are there not as a result of their own making. People may work but have to care for their children, and their income might not be enough to afford a home. Some of these people live in their vehicles while others opt for a tent.

    Warmth, food, and drinking water hold priority over a home. Some people end up in shelters because of their circumstances. Maybe they were trapped in an abusive relationship, and leaving could have meant the difference between life and death.

    Whatever the cause of becoming destitute, there is always a human element to consider and the smallest thought and deed performed in helping destitute people can make the greatest difference to life beyond the moment. Donating old clothing and blankets to shelters helps a great deal but take the time to wash the items before donating them. A clean smelling blanket or item of clothing does wonders in uplifting the spirit of the many who are one step away from totally giving up on life.

    Blankets for the homeless man holding sign that says seeking human kindness

    Homelessness affects all gender, age and ethnicity

    Both children and the elderly suffer most under trying circumstances. The elderly are oftentimes forgotten by their grown children and the cold winter months play a heavy toll on their health. Children cannot fend for themselves, and destitute situations take their toll here too.

    A hot meal and warm bed are essential basics that many children and the elderly go without, often for days at a time. The cost of both food and warmth may be out of reach to many in need. Every winter in South Africa, there are blanket drives all over the country that are geared toward keeping the destitute warm. A blanket drive taps into humanity and brings out the good in people. There are various different drives throughout the year, all aimed at helping the less fortunate. Just before Christmas each year, there is the toy run where bikers ride their bikes to centralized points and deliver toys for children over the Christmas period.

    The Salvation Army has been in existence for about 150 years and is a trusted Christian organization whose function is to preach Christian values and to lead by example by tending to the needy. Their global footprint is well known as they provide hot food and warmth to the destitute; whether this is in the form of a shelter or perhaps just a blanket to protect from the cold, the Salvation Army marches on in a virtuous fashion.

    All these different organizations play an important role in providing hope to the hopeless. They provide warmth and sustenance to the homeless, but they mostly depend on the goodwill of more fortunate citizens.

    Life can change for the better simply through the gift of a single blanket or last seasons winter woollies.

    Blankets for the homeless two you children standing next to each other

    Functional gifts or donations

    Take a moment to consider what your gift or donation means to the recipient. Does it mean an almost endless supply of clean drinking water to a community, or does it mean sowing a small seed of hope in the heart of a broken soul?

    Whatever your gift, there will be an appreciative recipient at the other end. We should think about what our gifts or donations mean to the recipients.

    When donating old clothing, make sure the items are not worn out and have tears in them. If the item is still in good condition and can last at least another season, then it's worth the effort.

    A person receiving a nice well looked after winter jacket will feel special in their own way, but if the same jacket had a tear or paint spills over it, it may project the impression that the recipient is not worth much, which can be disheartening to them.

    Clean blankets without holes in them provide warmth and can be shared if need be. Food and shelter are considered vital to survival, and by all counts, a blanket is the only shelter many homeless people have.

    By gifting or donating good quality items, recipients will be uplifted, and this might be all the motivation they need to begin working towards a more dignified life.

    Blankets for the homeless

    FAQ - The Questions You want Answered

    Where can I donate sheets and blankets near me?

    To find a donation center near you that accepts sheets and blankets, you can try the following options:

    1. Local homeless shelters: Homeless shelters often accept donations of bedding and linens. Search online for homeless shelters in your area and check their website or contact them directly to see if they currently accept sheets and blankets donations.
    2. Goodwill or Salvation Army: These organizations accept donations of gently used household items, including bedding and linens. Check their website or contact your local branch to see if they accept donations.
    3. Thrift stores: Check with local thrift stores in your area to see if they accept donations of bedding and linens.
    4. Animal shelters: Some animal shelters accept donations of sheets and blankets to use as animal bedding. Check with your local animal shelter to see if they accept donations.
    5. Online resources: Several online resources, such as and Goodwill's Donation Locator, can help you locate a donation center near you that accepts sheets and blankets.

    Before donating, ensure the items are clean and in good condition.

    Some organizations may also have specific requirements for the types of bedding they accept, so it's a good idea to check before donating.

    Do any charities want blankets?

    Yes, many charities and organizations accept donations of blankets to help those in need. Here are a few examples of charities that accept blanket donations:

    1. Homeless shelters: Homeless shelters often accept donations of blankets to provide warmth and comfort to those in need.
    2. Disaster relief organizations: Charities that provide disaster relief, such as the American Red Cross, often accept blanket donations to help those affected by natural disasters and emergencies.
    3. Animal shelters: Some animal shelters use blankets to provide warmth and comfort to animals. Check with your local animal shelter to see if they accept blanket donations.
    4. Veterans organizations: Charities supporting veterans, such as the Wounded Warrior Project, often accept blanket donations to comfort veterans in need.
    5. Hospice organizations: Hospice organizations provide end-of-life care and often accept blanket donations to comfort patients and their families.

    What do homeless shelters need the most?

    Blankets are essential for the homeless, especially during the colder months, to keep them warm and comfortable.

    When donating blankets to the homeless, consider the following:

    1. Warmth: Choose blankets that are warm and made of materials that provide insulation, such as wool, fleece, or thermal fabrics.
    2. Durability: Homeless individuals often use their blankets as a primary source of warmth and shelter, so choosing blankets that are durable and can withstand regular use and exposure to the elements is essential.
    3. Size: Larger blankets can provide better warmth and coverage, especially if the individual is tall or has to share the blanket with someone else.
    4. Portability: Choose lightweight and easy-to-carry blankets, as many homeless individuals have to carry their belongings with them.
    5. Cleanliness: Donating blankets that are clean and in good condition is essential. Consider washing the blankets before donating them.
    6. Waterproofing: Consider donating blankets that are waterproof or have a water-resistant coating, as homeless individuals often have to sleep outdoors and may be exposed to rain or moisture.

    By choosing warm, durable, portable, clean, and possibly waterproof blankets, you can provide essential warmth and comfort to homeless individuals in need.

    What are 5 ways to help the homeless?

    There are many ways to help the homeless, and here are five ways that you can consider:

    1. Donate to a homeless shelter or organization: Homeless shelters and organizations provide necessities, such as food, clothing, and shelter, to those in need. You can donate money, clothing, and other essential items to these organizations to help support their efforts.
    2. Volunteer your time: Volunteering at a homeless shelter or organization is a great way to help those in need. You can assist with serving meals, organizing donations, or providing mentorship and support to individuals who are experiencing homelessness.
    3. Advocate for policy changes: Homelessness is a complex issue that requires policy changes at the local, state, and national levels. You can advocate for policies that address the root causes of homelessness, such as affordable housing and access to healthcare.
    4. Educate yourself and others: Learning more about the causes and challenges of homelessness can help you better understand the issue and become a more effective advocate. You can also help educate others about the issue by sharing information and resources.
    5. Show compassion and kindness: Homelessness can be a traumatic experience for individuals, and showing compassion and kindness can go a long way in helping them feel seen and valued. You can help by offering a kind word or gesture or simply treating homeless individuals with respect and dignity.

    Who helps homeless the most?

    There is no single organization or group that helps homeless people the most, as the issue of homelessness is complex and multifaceted.

    Many different organizations, both public and private, work to provide support and assistance to homeless individuals, including:

    1. Government agencies: Local, state, and federal agencies often provide funding and support for homeless services, including emergency shelter, food assistance, and healthcare.
    2. Nonprofit organizations: Many nonprofit organizations, such as homeless shelters, food banks, and community organizations, work to provide essential services and resources to homeless individuals.
    3. Religious organizations: Many religious organizations, such as churches, synagogues, and mosques, have programs that provide food, shelter, and other assistance to those in need.
    4. Businesses: Some businesses support homeless services by donating funds or resources or providing employment and job training opportunities.
    5. Individuals: Many support homeless services by donating money, volunteering their time, and advocating for policy changes.

    Ultimately, helping homeless individuals requires a collective effort from various organizations and individuals working together to end homelessness and support those in need.

    What do you give a homeless person in the winter?

    If you encounter a homeless person during the winter, here are some items you can give them to help them stay warm and comfortable:

    1. Warm clothing: Warm clothing, such as a coat, hat, gloves, and socks, can provide essential warmth during the cold winter.
    2. Blankets: A warm blanket can provide additional warmth and comfort, especially if the person sleeps outside or in a shelter without adequate bedding.
    3. Hand warmers: Disposable hand warmers can provide warmth and comfort for several hours and are small enough to carry in a pocket.
    4. Food and drinks: Warm food and drinks can provide much-needed nourishment and warmth. Consider offering hot coffee, soup, or a warm meal.
    5. Hygiene items: Personal hygiene items, such as soap, toothbrushes, and toothpaste, can help homeless individuals maintain their health and dignity.
    6. Cash or gift cards: Providing cash or gift cards can give homeless individuals the ability to purchase essential items, such as food, clothing, and shelter, according to their needs.

    Remember to approach homeless individuals respectfully and kindly and offer assistance without judgment.

    If you are unsure how to help, consider donating to a local homeless shelter or organization that can provide more comprehensive support and assistance.

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