HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — You are most likely watching television or surfing the web from the comfort of your home. You’re warm, and you have a roof over your head, but that is a luxury that thousands of people in North Carolina don’t have. They sleep wherever they can find a place to huddle, and one woman in High Point noticed.
“There was a gentleman who slept every night out in front of one of the buildings,” says Amanda Anderson. “I would notice him in the mornings, and something was calling me that said, ‘we need to help him, we’ve got to help him.'”
That was in 2013. Every morning, Anderson saw a man sleeping on a bench as she took her son to school. She turned to her friends on social media and made a plea for help. “Can we get him blankets? Can we get him gift cards to restaurants? Can we get him gloves, coats, jackets, and my friends came through.”
Anderson never met that man, but she left everything she collected for warmth and gift cards for food on his bench one night. Within two days, he was gone. She hasn’t seen him since. “What I like to think is that that showed him that he was loved, somebody noticed him, and cared for him, and that helped him get back to where he needed to get on the right foot.”
Anderson was already a volunteer at Open Door Ministries. Encouraged by her success with the homeless man, she asked the nonprofit what else she could do. “What do you need? Do you need something? Is there anything? And they said ‘blankets.’ They said they never get blankets donated, and I said ‘alright, let’s go, let’s do this project.'”
She again turned to her friends, and blankets started coming in. They covered the city with blankets and socks to help people stay warm, and although it was intended to be a one-time collection, Anderson says, she realized, her mission ran deeper. “A lot of times a blanket, those of us who have homes take it for granted. You know we curl up with that blanket to watch a football game or a movie,” she says. “And a lot of times you get so caught up in your own life, you don’t realize that there are people out there that are struggling, and a blanket can give them hope, can give them love.”
Cover the City Project was born with the goal of literally and physically providing warmth. Every October and November, the volunteer organization collects new and gently-used blankets. Partners at area “A Cleaner World” locations clean the blankets and make any needed repairs. Then, the blankets are distributed to the homeless who live on the streets and stay in shelters. They’re left in area Blessing Boxes, and police officers even deliver blankets to encampments where the homeless gather. It didn’t take long for Anderson’s idea to catch fire.
“When I started this organization, they were like ‘what are you doing?’ They asked questions and said ‘you know we really need that in this area. Can we bring it here?’ And I said ‘sure, let’s do it.'” Cover the City Project now collects blankets across the Piedmont Triad, and it has spread to other states including New York, Ohio, Florida and Tennessee.
Anderson says she expects to collect the group’s 100-thousandth blanket this winter. It’s an accomplishment she finds humbling. “It truly only takes one person to make a difference,” says Anderson. “I can only hope that I’ve been someone like that.”
Cover the City Project is an all-volunteer organization. No one draws a paycheck, and it’s privately funded by donors and businesses as well as funds managed through the High Point Community Foundation. FOX8 is proud to be a community partner.
You can drop off new or gently used blankets at any “A Cleaner World” location through November 30th. Those that can be cleaned and repaired will go to help the homeless stay warm. Blankets that can’t be used for humans go to area animal shelters, so nothing gets wasted.
In the spring, Cover the City Project focuses on collecting socks. If you want to help, you can get more information online at www.coverthecityproject.org.