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Warming hearts

Event founder Jack Gallagher hopes to collect more than 300 blankets this year.

Event founder Jack Gallagher hopes to collect more than 300 blankets this year.

Kristy Vickery

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As the winter season approaches so does the cold weather, and more and more homeless people are left trying to find a way to endure the shivering months to come.

The Orlando Runners Club Sunday Running Group, along with the support of many other Central Florida groups, are hoping to help many homeless people in Central Florida make it through another frigid winter by collecting blankets.

“They have been very successful to be able to help us to acquire accommodations for folks we would otherwise not be able to do,” said Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida President/CEO Brent Trotter. “So this is just another example of the outpouring of our community to help us help people who are in desperate need.”

The non-profit running club will conduct its third annual blanket drive for the residents of the men’s pavilion at the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida on Sunday, Nov. 7. The main collection effort will take place in Winter Park at Park and Welbourne Avenues starting at 6:30 a.m., prior to the Sunday Running Group’s weekly run starting at 7 a.m. All local runners are invited to join in the run, and everyone in the community is invited to donate gently used or new blankets to the homeless.

Orlando Running Club member Jack Gallagher started the blanket drive two years ago and said although the first year started off slow, the second year grew steadily. This year, Gallagher’s goal is at least 300 blankets — one for each of the men housed at the coalition.

He said he’s received much more support from the community this year, as well as local running groups, such as The Winter Park Dawgs and TSF Marathonfest Training Groups.

“I can’t explain what happened this year — I guess I’ve gotten a little more aggressive at contacting people,” Gallagher said. “People are basically generous, and you can’t be too afraid to ask, because you’re not asking for anything for yourself.”

Winter Park Dawgs member Dave Sutton has worked with the Coalition in the past, and said he is looking forward to helping them out again.

“It’s a greatly appreciated way to give back,” Sutton said.

Track Shack Training Program Director Susan Paul said it’s the first year they have been involved in the blanket drive, but are also looking forward to giving back to the community.

“It’s really fun when you get to take something you enjoy doing anyways, and get to use it as a vehicle to help others,” Paul said.

With so many people in need, helping others is the objective as the winter months approach.

“There are more and more people that are looking to us to provide some sort of assistance during the downturn of the economy,” Trotter said. “And we are doing all that we can to make sure the services are delivered to the people that need them.”

Gallagher is excited about the turnout he’s received from the community this year, and even more excited to be able to help out someone less fortunate.

“They are always delighted to receive these blankets,” Gallagher said. “And what it means to us is when you see men walking around in the downtown area with blankets when it’s cold… it’s not too unlikely those blankets came from us.”

Donate a blanket

The Orlando Runners Club will conduct its third annual blanket drive for the homeless on Sunday, Nov. 7 at Park and Welbourne Avenues starting at 6:30 a.m.

For more information, contact Jack Gallagher at gallagher.consulting

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