Thinking of ways to give back to her community, Angela Amirkhanian wrote one day about a blanket drive. But thinking it would be too time consuming, she simply put the paper away and didn’t give it much thought.
Three years ago, one of the tenants in her apartment complex in Hollywood said there was a person who was in a trash bin that had been turned over.
“We called the police and it was simply a homeless woman. She had climbed in there just to keep warm,” Amirkhanian recalled. “When the police came they told her she was trespassing and we literally watched her walk away, barefoot and all. I was so moved by it, I thought that was a sign for me to pursue this random vision I’d had of a blanket drive.”
And so began “Love is a Warm Blanket,” a blanket drive that runs from October to February that aims to warm the hearts and souls of the less fortunate during the holidays. “Those that do not get to spend this time with family, food and warm homes,” Amirkhanian said.
Program Has Grown
Founded in 2012, what started with only a few donated blankets from friends and family, has gained the attention of hundreds through social media outlets, local publications and word of mouth.
“In 2012, being the first year, I had the support of family and friends. They gave me blankets they didn’t really use,” she said.
In 2013, she reached out to the general public and the effort grew.
Last year, Amirkhanian sought more help through Facebook, Twitter and some blogs, and the response grew exponentially.
“Love is a Warm Blanket” has handed out nearly 200 blankets to the homeless this winter.
“Hearing the gratitude and seeing the smiles of these vulnerable people gives me so such joy. I do this purely out of love,” said Amirkhanian, 27, who works for the The Valley Economic Alliance.
Amirkhanian and some of her biggest donors distribute the new and used blankets to the homeless directly. This year, she gave them out at the parking lot of the Union Rescue Mission, in downtown Los Angeles’ Skid Row area.
She also passed them out during the Thanksgiving dinner hosted by the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission in Sun Valley, where she also helped out in the kitchen.
Thanks All Around
Being able to pursue this endeavor has really been eye opening, Amirkhanian said.
“It’s great to have the support of people who don’t even know me. Many people want to help, they just need a cause they believe in, and when I hear from people asking me where they can drop off 25 blankets they purchased, it’s great,” she said.
But nothing compares with the actual passing out of the blankets to the homeless.
“It’s such a reality check for me. They’re so grateful, thankful and so kind and sometimes you just take these people for granted,” Amirkhanian said.
“It’s heartwarming and sad at the same time,” she added. “[But] their gratitude and the smiles, it keeps me going.”
She said the blankets have proven to be a good option for distributing donations to the homeless. They’re durable and something a person without a home or a warm place to sleep can use year round, even in the summer.
Amirkhanian is happy she never threw away those notes she jotted down on a piece of paper.
“This little passion of mine turned into a great way to help people,” she said.
The fourth annual drive will begin in October. Visit www.facebook.com/LoveisaWarmBlanket or follow on Twitter @Blanket_Drive for more information.