Santa Catalina’s South Hall Council will be hosting the Winter Warm-Up to collect blanket donations for Santa Barbara’s Casa Esperanza 24-hour homeless shelter until Saturday, Dec. 5.
The shelter began its annual Winter Shelter Bed program on Dec. 1 in response to the increased number of houseless individuals seeking shelter during wintertime. Santa Catalina South Hall Community Service Chair and first-year political science major Leanna Lugo organized Winter Warm-Up to help provide blankets for the shelter during this time.
Lugo said the shelter has a shortage of blankets for the estimated 100 individuals expected to arrive at the shelter in the coming weeks.
“They suggested I host a blanket drive,” Lugo said. “I went to my advisor and talked to him about it and he said it is a great idea so I began planning it.”
According to Lugo, the program was a “success” and has received 40 to 50 blankets so far.
“What I’m hoping for by the end of this week is about 60 blankets, but right now I think we have a pretty good amount,” Lugo said.
Lugo said she originally wanted to organize volunteering for the shelter.
“I really wanted to take a group of students to help feed the homeless at Casa Esperanza because I really liked what the shelter stood for and their mission,” Lugo said. “But when I got into contact with them, they were busy because it was November. They were booked for volunteers.”
Lugo said most donations came in after students returned from the Thanksgiving weekend.
“I didn’t think people had a lot of used blankets here but when they went home for Thanksgiving break, they seemed to have brought back a lot since then,” Lugo said. “On Monday I started to see a lot of blankets in the boxes. Some people even brought clothes.”
Santa Catalina South Hall Multimedia Coordinator and first-year communication major Carmen Ma said the values associated with Thanksgiving may have prompted students to donate blankets.
“People start to remember what they’re thankful for and they start wanting to give back because they realize all that they have.” Ma said.
Ma said it was easy to get students to participate.
“All people had to do was bring back blankets over break,” Ma said. “It’s a win-win for everyone.”
Santa Catalina South Hall Council Environmental Awareness Chair and first-year psychology major Nina Masjedi said she donated to the drive.
“I felt like it was a great way to help people and see a direct result on a local scale,” Masjedi said in an email. “It was a way for me to help in the community surrounding me.”
Lugo said the program provided people an easy opportunity to help the local community.
“I’m sure that everyone who attends this school also had to do some sort of community service, so it’s important to keep that going even though you’re already in college.” Lugo said. “It’s important to give back to the community and give to those that need it more than we do.”
Lugo said the program can set a precedent for future years.
“This sort of event is a good thing to continue,” Lugo said. “Even if a homeless shelter doesn’t have a shortage of blankets or if they have enough of what they need.”
A version of this story appeared on p. 4 of the Thursday, Dec. 3 edition of the Daily Nexus.