I went to a Red Cross event a couple weeks ago where flyers were laid out on a table. As usual, I skimmed the table, looking for anything of interest and I came across a flyer titled Operation Blankets of Love.
At first glance I thought it was for helping homeless on Skid Row during the winter months. My husband and I took and donated boxes filled with clothes and blankets one winter before Christmas and we felt accomplished and happy for being able to give back to our community. This flyer, however, was not for the homeless on Skid Row but for the homeless animals in shelters and rescue groups.
I thought of the veterinary hospital I worked at many many years ago. We collected blankets, towels and pillows in any condition, so we could keep the animals warm and soft as they were undergoing surgery and were distressed from being away from home. The blankets and the towels were always washed in hot water and used for bedding in the cages, and mopping floors if the towels were too old, and then tossed after many many uses. We welcomed everything to keep the animals warm.
This flyer also reminded me of the Griffith Park fire not too long ago. My husband and I arrived on a bike at Marshall High in Hollywood and set up shelter before the Red Cross could even get through the thick traffic jam that was caused by people abandoning their cars and walking out of the hills with a pet under one arm and their purse in the other. After we set up the area for the families that were displaced for the night, we set up an area for pets, away from the turmoil, the noise and the bright lights of the campus. Stephen and I stayed late into the night, helping people with their pets, making sure that they all had food and water and were taken care of. It was a busy night that required lots of good will and donated food, blankets and crates, etc. We are still in touch with some of the pet owners.
The winter months are still very cold and I hope that I can reach you with this flyer that I found at this meeting and ask you to go through your closet and gather blankets, towels, old pillows, bedding, toys, crates, collars and leashes, food bowls and dog clothes into a box or two. If the items are in good condition, homeless shelters, young mothers, or teens in need will be glad to take them off your hands. For animal items, ask your local vet if they need them, a local rescue shelter or a Red Cross in your area. Shelters don’t have any budget for bedding and blankets are needed all year round.
Giving back to your community for immediate use or for an emergency will fill you with much more satisfaction than throwing these useful items into the trash. Go ahead, make it a fantastic day for you and someone else!
This article appeared in the on-line magazine for actors The Networker, in February 2013.