For the third year in a row, 16-year-old Virginia Ingram has embarked on a solitary quest to collect as many blankets as she can, and distribute those to needy families throughout the community.
Through her project, “Spread the Warmth,” Virginia, a junior at Darlington, has collected over 400 new and gently used blankets. She hopes this year will yield even more.
“I started at the beginning of October,” she said. “And we’ve already gotten several blankets donated. I just want to get the word out there. I think if people in the community know about it they’ll want to donate.”
The idea for the event came two years ago when Virginia was participating in the First Methodist Church’s White Christmas event. The church collects food items and other necessities and boxes them up for needy families to pick up on a particular day in December.
“They’re given food but I was afraid that they’d still go home and be cold,” Virginia said. “If a family can’t afford food, then in many cases they might not be able to afford to heat their homes either.”
So she decided that she wanted to spread some warmth…literally.
She is collecting new and gently used blankets and quilts of all colors and sizes. Community members can donate as many as they’d like. Virginia has placed drop-off bins bearing a “Spread The Warmth” poster at Darlington Lower School, Darlington Middle, St. Mary’s School and at First Methodist Church in downtown Rome.
Christa Jackson, Director of Admission and Development at St. Mary’s School, said the school is proud to be a part of Virginia’s efforts.
“After the past few cold, damp days, it means so much to know that young people like Virginia are aware of the great need that is all around us,” Jackson said. “It is often easy for young people to be self-absorbed – but not Virginia. She has a true heart for service to others and we couldn’t be prouder of her. She demonstrated the attitude of giving when she was at Saint Mary’s and has clearly continued her efforts as a high school student at Darlington.
“Every single blanket that is donated is important because each blanket impacts a person – one of God’s special creations,” Jackson added. “By giving even one blanket, you have blessed and changed someone’s life for the good. There is something very special about a blanket – its warmth is a great symbol of the love that we can share as we give from our hearts to bless someone we will never know.”
The deadline for dropping off blankets in one of the bins is Dec. 14. They will be distributed to families on Dec. 15 at First Methodist Church’s White Christmas event.
“I hand the blankets out myself,” Virginia said. “It’s a great feeling knowing that someone is a little warmer because of the work I’ve put in. It’s an especially good feeling when I see that it’s kids who are getting the blankets.”