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Bettendorf Rotary Collects Blankets For "Acre of Warmth"

Nancy and Neil Russell, who donated 95 handmade quilts to the Acre of Warmth Campaign
Bettendorf Rotary
Nancy and Neil Russell, who donated 95 handmade quilts to the Acre of Warmth Campaign

As winter approaches, the Bettendorf Rotary Club is collecting blankets to help the homeless.

The Acre of Warmth campaign calls on community members to donate new or gently-used blankets so the Rotary Club can distribute them to Quad Cities aid groups.

Joe Campion is the lead volunteer for the campaign. He says blankets are a key commodity for shelters and the needy--and an easy way to make a difference.

"If you look in your hall closet, you probably have ten blankets that you haven't used in five years. So once everybody realizes 'wow, I've got a bunch of blankets at home,' we've asked for those gently-used blankets to come our way."

The goal was to gather enough blankets to cover an acre of space--in total, around 800 blankets. The blankets are divided into large and small, as well as themed blankets with patterns like superheroes and sports teams that are earmarked specially for kids.

Campion is delighted by the community response, which includes groups like the Girl Scouts, TBK Bank, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and the Bettendorf and Pleasant Valley School Districts, as well as individuals like Nancy Russell of Davenport, who donated 95 handmade quilts for the drive.

"She called me on the phone and she asked about a drop-off site. I said: 'Well, how many do you have?' and she said 'Maybe fifty.' And I said 'Ma'am, for fifty blankets, I will come to your house and pick them up.' And when I got there, she and her husband had folded them, and there were ninety-five blankets there. It just overwhelmed me."

Campion says part of the beauty is that there's a story behind every blanket.

"Maybe it was your son or your daughter's blanket, your mom or your dad's blanket, but there's just a story behind every one of those blankets. And they're giving that story to someone that can use that blanket in the upcoming months."

With one week to go in the Acre of Warmth campaign, the Rotary Club has about 635 blankets out of the 800 they're hoping to collect.

Quad Citizens are encouraged to drop off new or gently-used blankets at drop-off sites in Bettendorf, including Bettendorf City Hall, the Bettendorf Library, Duck Creek Tire, K&K Hardware, AAA, and Ace Auto Doctor.

Aaryan Balu first set foot in audio journalism at WTJU Charlottesville and WRIR Richmond, and now works as WVIK Quad Cities NPR's Fellowship Host.