HANCOCK COUNTY — An effort to collect blankets and coats to be given to homeless people is set to enter its third holiday season this year, and the young boy leading the charge hopes 2016 will be its largest push so far.
This week, the Daily Reporter caught up with the local family behind Hunter’s Hugs to learn about the project’s plans for 2016. Here’s what you need to know:
What’s been done so far?
Hunter’s Hugs was created in 2014 by Hunter Lenk, now a third-grader at Mt. Comfort Elementary School, and his family. It all started with a simple question from the then 7-year-old: How do homeless people stay warm during the winter?
Now, it’s Hunter’s mission to collect hundreds of blankets, quilts, coats and scarves from friends, neighbors and other area do-gooders and pass them out each winter as gifts of warmth to the homeless living on central Indiana streets.
In 2014, Hunter collected 105 blankets and donated them to Wheeler Mission, one of Indianapolis’s largest homeless shelters. His collection jumped to more than 500 blankets in 2015 after word of his efforts spread across the region. After dropping off the majority at the mission last year, Hunter and his family walked the street of Indianapolis and handed out donated blankets to the people they met.
This year, Hunter and his family are hoping to surpass that 500-blanket mark. They plan to divide the 2016 haul between Wheeler Mission and an Indianapolis women and children’s center in addition to passing out gifts by hand.
How can people help?
The best way to reach the family is to send a message through the Hunter’s Hugs Facebook page, facebook.com/huntershugs4thehomeless. They’ll make arrangements for pick-up or drop-off of your gift, said Jordyn Kiser, Hunter’s mom.
This winter, the family is seeking new or gently-used sets of sheets, pillowcases and blankets, along with coats, scarves and mittens for children and adults. Monetary donations also will be accepted.