Many companies make charitable donations during the holidays. Adopting a family and providing them with gifts is a common one. BlueVolt has done that before and it was a good experience. But for the last five years we’ve done something different, that helps more people and people even more in need.
Again this year, BlueVolt is producing and delivering Warming Kits. Everyone here gets involved in one way or another. Some donate money, others purchase the kit items themselves and bring them to the office, we invite the other businesses in our building to get involved, and give our customers an opportunity to participate.
The ‘kits’ are simple and something that your company, organization or club could do too. Here’s how we do it:
Making the Kits
Each kits contains the following items, enclosed in an extra-large Ziploc bag:
- Wool gloves
- Wool socks
- Wool hat
- Sisters of the Road meal voucher
- And a treat
The Ziploc bag is important as it can be used to store many things and the closure will keep the items dry.
Since the beginning, we’ve made the scarves ourselves. Just get some bolts of fleece from a fabric store (often on sale during the holidays) and some sharp scissors. Cut out approximately 6-8” wide strips and then fringe the ends.
We pick one afternoon where cut out all the scarves and assemble the kits. Everything is laid out on tables, we play some holiday music, and have a good time as put the kits together.
Delivering the Kits
Once all the kits are completed, everyone takes some with them. And this is where things get special. Some people head downtown, to the spots where the homeless often gather, and pass out all of their kits at once. Others will keep a supply in their car and give them out over time.
This part can be intimidating for some people, especially at first. But I can tell you from doing this for several years, the people you give these kits to are so thankful. It may seem like a small thing, but it’s not.
There are two key components to these kits, that shouldn’t be compromised. Wool and the meal vouchers.
- Portland has relatively mild winters, but they are wet. The rain combined with 40-degree temperatures can cause frostbite and hypothermia. This is why we put wool socks and gloves in the kits. Wool will keep you warm, even when it’s wet. Cotton will not.
- Sisters of the Road is an organization in Portland that offers a space to build community, empower ourselves, learn from one another, dine with dignity and organize for justice and human rights for all. The dine with dignity part is important as many who are homeless are looked over and ignored on a daily basis. The meal vouchers we include in the kits costs just $2 each, but provide the recipient with a warm, healthy meal and drink in a safe place.
Our goal this year is to create and deliver 100 Warming Kits. We are collecting donations now, will purchase the items and assemble next week and start giving them out right afterwards.
We’d love to see others do this too. Let us know if you have questions about this, or if you’d like to get involved with our program.