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Senior Residents of Bristol Village in Clarence Make Blankets to Help the Homeless | Good News America

The residents of Bristol Village, a senior living community in Clarence, NY, have been busy this winter - not just staying warm themselves, but making blankets to help keep the homeless warm as well. For several years, the residents have been hand-making blankets and donating them to Friends of Night People (FONP), a nonprofit serving the homeless population in Buffalo, NY. It all started about four years ago when the community was still known as Bristol Home. The Activities Director there, Beth, wanted to find a way for residents to give back. She chose FONP because the organization tries to meet the immediate needs of the homeless with food, clothing, and other essentials. With many of the senior residents having grown up during the Depression era, they could relate to those less fortunate and were eager to help.

Senior Residents of Bristol Village in Clarence Make Blankets to Help the Homeless | Good News America
Senior Residents of Bristol Village in Clarence Make Blankets to Help the Homeless | Good News America

Every year now, the residents create many fleece tie blankets to deliver to FONP. It gives them a sense of purpose and a way to engage with the community. Even as the senior living community changed names and relocated, the blanket-making has continued. It has become an annual tradition the residents look forward to each winter.

History of the Initiative: The blanket-making initiative at Bristol Village first started several years ago when the senior living community was still located on Main Street in Buffalo, New York. Under the direction of then-Activities Director Beth, residents began handmaking blankets that would be donated to Friends of Night People (FONP), a local nonprofit serving the homeless population in Buffalo.

Back then, Bristol Village residents crafted blankets in their spare time as a way to give back to the community and support individuals in need. The project continued even after Bristol Village relocated to its current Clarence, NY location in 2021 following the Main Street facility's closure due to COVID-19.

Friends of Night People Overview: Friends of Night People (FONP) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving vulnerable and homeless people in the Buffalo, NY area. Founded in 1970, FONP provides weekly meals, food, clothing, blankets, and other essentials for those in need. Their mission is to "provide compassionate emergency support, resources, and advocacy for vulnerable men and women in the area."

FONP has a long history of serving Buffalo's disadvantaged, operating an overnight shelter until 2002. When they closed the shelter, FONP shifted focus to outreach programs bringing food, supplies, and support directly to homeless people on the streets. Some of their key programs include:

  • Hot meal program - FONP prepares and delivers hot meals every Sunday directly to homeless people at various locations in downtown Buffalo. They serve around 400 meals per week.

  • Food pantry - Their pantry provides food, juice, milk, snacks, canned goods, and other groceries to those in need. FONP distributes these items during their Sunday meal program and other outreach efforts.

  • Clothing room - FONP maintains a clothing room stocked with donated coats, hats, gloves, socks, and other cold weather gear essential for Buffalo winters. These items are freely available to the homeless during FONP's outreach programs.

  • Additional items - FONP also provides blankets, toiletries, diapers, feminine products, books, and other necessities not typically available to the homeless.

  • FONP collaborates with other local organizations to maximize support for the disadvantaged. They rely on volunteers and donations to fund their operations.

Resident Spotlight: Betty is their oldest resident, who also participates in making blankets for Friends of Night People. At 101 years old, Betty has been knitting and sewing blankets since the initiative started at Bristol Village. Betty was born & grew up during the Great Depression and learned to sew at a young age out of necessity, making clothes and blankets for her family. She carried on her sewing skills into adulthood and particularly enjoys quilting colorful blankets.

The Blanket-Making Process: The residents at Bristol Village in Clarence have a well-oiled operation for creating blankets for those in need. It all starts with gathering materials - they collect donated fleece, flannel, quilting fabrics, and yarn from community members. Then comes the fun part - the residents spend time together cutting, tying, and sewing to transform the raw materials into cozy, warm blankets. It's a labor of love. The skilled seamstresses work their magic on sewing machines while others focus on tying knotted fleece blankets. There's a role for every resident no matter their physical ability.

They work assembly-line style, with stations set up for each step of the process. Some residents cut fringe on the fleece, while others tie the knots. The sewing station hums with activity as beautiful patterns come together. Seniors with reduced mobility or dexterity provide moral support and companionship.

Watching the residents create each blanket imbues the final product with extra warmth and care. Their positive energy and dedication to helping others infuse each stitch.

The result is a hearty, comforting blanket ready to provide solace and warmth for someone less fortunate.

Impact on the Community: The blanket-making initiative has had a profound impact not just on Friends of Night People, but also on the Bristol Village residents themselves. Many residents find the blanket-making deeply fulfilling. The blanket-making has also brought residents together and given them a sense of community and purpose. By coming together for a great cause, the residents have found meaning and camaraderie. The initiative has fostered lasting friendships and uplifted many residents. Overall, the blanket-making has enriched the Bristol Village community. It has reinforced residents' sense of humanity and compassion.

Delivering the Blankets: Once a year the group of Bristol Village residents load up a van with handmade blankets and drive over to Friends of Night People's offices in downtown Buffalo. The residents are always greeted warmly by FONP staff, who are extremely grateful to receive the donations. The blankets are carefully unloaded from the van and brought inside the FONP facility. Staff members then sort through the blankets, designating some to hand out that night to their clients seeking shelter and warmth. The rest are neatly folded and stored, to be distributed on nights when the temperatures drop dangerously low.

FONP ensures the blankets go to those who need them most - the homeless and disadvantaged seeking reprieve from the bitter Buffalo winters. A handmade blanket provides not just warmth, but also comfort and hope. The Bristol Village residents take great pride in knowing their efforts directly benefit FONP and the people they serve.

Delivering the blankets is a heartwarming experience for the residents. They receive tours of the FONP facility and have opportunities to speak with staff and clients. It offers perspective and fulfillment, reinforcing the purpose behind their blanket-making initiative. The delivery trips motivate them to keep up their efforts, with the knowledge that they are making a tangible difference in their community.

Friends of Night People's Response: The staff at Friends of Night People has been overwhelmed by the residents' generosity and compassion. When the first batch of beautiful handmade blankets arrived, the organization was truly touched by the care that went into each one. Even though the nights can get brutally cold in Buffalo during the winter months, the residents' donations help ensure that the city's homeless population stays warm. The blankets provide comfort and dignity to those in need. According to a Friends of Night People spokesperson, "We are constantly inspired by the kindness of strangers. The incredible residents at Bristol Village continue to demonstrate the power of community and giving back. Their dedication speaks volumes about their character." The organization says the heartfelt gifts serve as a reminder that small acts of compassion can make a big difference. The handmade blankets will be cherished by the recipients.

Looking Ahead: The residents of Bristol Village have no plans of stopping their blanket-making efforts anytime soon. This initiative brings great joy and purpose to the residents, allowing them to help those less fortunate in the community.

How to Get Involved: There are several ways you can get involved and help support this heartwarming initiative spearheaded by the residents of Bristol Village.

  • Volunteer Your Time If you live in the area, consider volunteering your time to help the residents make blankets. The blanket-making sessions are typically held once a week at Bristol Village. Volunteers are welcome to join and help cut fabric, tie blankets, and engage with the residents. It's a fun and social way to spend a few hours and make a difference.

  • Donate Supplies Blanket-making requires fabric, scissors, rulers, fleece, and other supplies. If you'd like to support the cause, consider donating new and unused craft supplies to keep the residents stocked up. Financial contributions are also welcome to help purchase materials.

  • Spread the Word Help get the word out about this amazing initiative! Share on social media and tell your friends. Creating awareness supports the residents in their efforts and may lead to more volunteers and donations.

Support Friends of Night People: While the blankets go directly to Friends of Night People, the organization has many other needs as they support the homeless population in Buffalo. Visit their website to learn more about donating your time, goods, or financial contributions. By getting involved in any capacity, you'll be supporting this compassionate group of senior citizens as they work to help the homeless community. Their work demonstrates that anyone at any age can make a tangible difference.

-Join the "Good Deeds" Movement: At "Good Deeds America", we believe in the power of positive storytelling. Our mission is to showcase and celebrate acts of kindness, community initiatives, and uplifting stories nationwide. By amplifying these narratives, we aim to inspire and uplift audiences, fostering a culture where good deeds become a way of life.

Do you know someone making a positive difference in your community? Good Deeds America invites you to share your good news and deeds stories on our website. Visit GoodDeedsAmerica.TV and submit your uplifting stories.

Please stay connected with us on Facebook and YouTube to join this uplifting movement. Let's continue to make a difference, one good deed at a time.

This post includes content written by AI and has been reviewed by a Human team member of Good Deeds America.

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