According to Alicia Lewis, most people take the comforting warmth of a heavy blanket for granted.
“Blankets are something that just about everybody has,” she said, “but there’s always a need.”
Working as a case manager for the Schenectady Community Action Program, Lewis noticed that some of Schenectady’s poorest residents had no way to get warm.
“I noticed there were drives for everything else,” she said “Coat drives, food drives. I decided to do a blanket drive.”
For the past few years, she has opened up her own living room to the cause, gathering blankets between October and December and donating them to various local charities.
Her efforts brought dozens of blankets to the Schenectady City Mission, the Family Life Center and the local youth shelter.
On their way to those charities and into the hands of the needy, the blankets make a pit stop in Lewis’s little Schenectady living room.
“I don’t have a big living room,” she said, “but they really do take up a lot of space.”
On Friday, she delivered 60 blankets of every variety to the YWCA domestic violence shelter, her Chevy trailblazer packed to the windows.
“I called up the shelter before donating,” she said, “just to see if they were interested. They told me they’re in constant need of blankets.”
She cited an ever-increasing rate of domestic violence for the YWCA’s urgency.
With a few years under her belt, Lewis plans to continue with the annual blanket drives.
At this point, she’s not sure which charity will benefit from her drive next year, but said she plans to shift away from shelters and the like.
With utility costs so high, she said lower-income residents often turn down their heat to save money. Even if someone has a home, sometimes the cost of blankets can be prohibitive.