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Grassroots social media campaign raises money for 850 blankets for Bean’s Cafe

A grassroots social media campaign raises money for 850 blankets for Bean's Cafe.
A grassroots social media campaign raises money for 850 blankets for Bean's Cafe.(Darrell Vincek (CUSTOM_CREDIT) | Darrell Vincek)
Published: Dec. 16, 2020 at 5:33 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaskans experiencing homelessness are a little warmer this week thanks to the generous donation of blankets from community members.

“Every person receiving a blanket has a story, and every person who donated has one too,” says drive organizer Julie Vincek.

Vincek and friends raised enough money for 850 new blankets to be donated to patrons at Bean’s Cafe, a local nonprofit offering services to people experiencing homelessness.

“Remember, our Anchorage population that are struggling with homelessness are beautiful people that come from all over Alaska and beyond, each with unique stories,” wrote Vincek in a post encouraging people to give. “Let’s wrap them in some warmth this holiday season and beyond.”

Even people who are going through hard times themselves went above and beyond. Vincek says one couple who owns a small business that is hurting right now because of the pandemic gave a $1,000. When she told them the donation was too much she says they responded, “Even though we are struggling we know there are others struggling more than us... we like to pay it forward!”

“The pandemic is tough on everybody,” says Diana Arthur, director of development and communications at Bean’s Cafe. “We are seeing more first-time homeless individuals than ever before.”

Vincek’s original goal was to raise enough money to buy 100 blankets, but that was soon surpassed. When she had raised enough for 287 blankets she challenged more of her friends to give in a Facebook post, “I just can’t stop at an uneven number so who can take us to 300?”

People kept chipping in and they raised more than eight times their original goal.

Vincek and her family and friends picked up the 10 pallets of blankets from Costco and dropped them off at the Sullivan arena on Monday.

Arthur says Bean’s is at capacity sheltering about 400 people a night at the Sullivan arena and helping 200 more who have been moved into other housing options. She says there is a constant need for the organization that is run primarily on donations. She calls the gift “life-altering.”

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