HANCOCK COUNTY – Everywhere Brittany Garrity looks, she sees blankets.
Dozens of quilts, comforters and baby blankets line the interior of her home, neatly stacked and sorted by color into tote bags, awaiting delivery to those in need.
The effort to collect the blankets is led by her 8-year-old stepson, Hunter Lenk. Since the beginning of December, the second-grader at Mt. Comfort Elementary has led Hunter’s Hugs, a charge to round up blankets, sheets and pillowcases to donate to the Wheeler Mission homeless shelter in Indianapolis. And with just a few days left to meet Hunter’s 200-blanket holiday goal, the family is making one last push for donations.
The effort began last year when Hunter asked his parents how homeless people stay warm during the winter, Garrity said.
“Hunter said he wanted to help, so we went to the closet and found a pile of blankets to donate,” she said. “After that, he said, ‘Well, I want to help more.’”
Garrity and Hunter’s mother, Jordan Kiser, reached out to friends and family through Facebook; Hunter spread word through his school, and before he knew it, the donations were pouring in. At the end of December 2014, Hunter donated 105 blankets to the Wheeler Mission.
“It just got bigger and bigger,” Hunter said.
This year, he’s shooting to collect 200 new or gently-used blankets by Dec. 31. And with more than 130 blankets collected so far, he’s well on his way.
Garrity and Hunter’s mom and dad, Jordan Kiser and Corey Lenk, support the cause by spreading word and stowing the blankets, but Hunter does most of the legwork, Garrity said.
After washing and folding the blankets, Hunter meticulously sorts them into groupings by color and size, she said.
“He had this huge operation going on in the living room with blankets laid out everywhere,” she said, laughing. “It’s the season where everyone’s wanting, wanting, wanting, and he just wants to help.”
Heather Whitaker, principal at Mt. Comfort Elementary, said while she and her teaching staff strive to make sure students understand the importance of giving back, it’s rare to see a student so committed to a cause.
“You want everyone to do what they can to make the world a better place, and it’s exciting to see Hunter take that initiative,” said Whitaker, who donated four blankets to the cause.
Once all the blankets are rounded up, the majority will go to Wheeler Mission, Kiser said. But she plans to pull a couple dozen aside to hand-deliver with Hunter to people living on the streets in downtown Indianapolis, she said.
“He’s really excited about that part,” she said. “He wants to see the people that he’s helping, and this will help him understand the impact that he’s made.”
New or gently-used blankets can be dropped off at Mt. Comfort Elementary, 5694 W. County Road 300N, or by calling Garrity at 317-519-0271.
To donate a new or gently-used set of sheets, pillowcases or blankets, call Brittany Garrity, 317-519-0271. Donations can also be dropped off at Mt. Comfort Elementary, 5694 W. County Road 300N.