80.3 F
San Fernando
Thursday, Dec 1, 2022
-Advertisement-

Blanket Campaign Covers Valley – and Beyond

For the fifth year running, local businesswoman Angela Amirkhanian has covered new territory in her quest to spread the love of a warm blanket. Her annual three-month drive to collect blankets for the homeless, an initiative she calls “Love is a Warm Blanket,” hit a new record this year with 450 donations and six distribution events. Four area businesses – an Allstate Corp. office in Glendale, Links N Hops restaurant in Atwater Village, the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission in Northridge and Valley Economic Alliance in Sherman Oaks, where Amirkhanian serves as economic development senior coordinator – volunteered to act as drop-off sites for donors. “I also increased the number of cities I was able to reach,” she said. “This year we went out to Venice, Highland Park and Echo Park, which was a first-time thing for us.” Amirkhanian was spurred into action five years ago after an incident at the Hollywood apartment building where she lives. Her father, the landlord, called one cold evening to tell her that a fellow tenant had reported something unusual: A person had climbed into one of the outdoor trash bins. Amirkhanian and her father arrived on the scene to find one of the bins tipped over. A pair of legs protruded from the inside. “We couldn’t see his or her body – we just saw legs coming out of the trashcan,” she said. “We were obviously afraid and thought of a hundred possibilities, so we called the cops immediately.” The police arrived, and after a couple soft kicks to the trash bin, a woman emerged. Barefoot and ill-clothed, she walked away into the night without saying a word. “I was just standing there watching it all happen,” Amirkhanian said. “I wish I’d given her some clothes or some food or a blanket, but I just watched her walk away.” That October, she launched the first blanket collection drive. Initially, she was distributing the donations “one-to-one,” pulling over on the side of the road to hand out blankets to homeless persons. “I would just see someone and ask if they needed a blanket,” she said. By the third year of the project, she was receiving more blankets than she could handle alone. Her solo mission evolved into collaborations with groups such as Hope of the Valley, with which she partners to distribute blankets at outreach events and temporary emergency shelters. She calls on donors and supporters to join her in handing out blankets to the homeless, adding an interactive element that she believes has been key to the initiative’s success. “As the drive has grown, I’ve realized how far the interaction goes as opposed to just giving these individuals something they need,” she said. “It’s been so emotional and gratifying just to get to know them on a human level.” Kindness Challenge Two Valley hospitals and a number of local schools took part in Kids for Peace’s “Great Kindness Challenge,” an annual competition to see who can complete the most acts of kindness. The weeklong initiative was held Jan. 23-27. Presenting sponsor Dignity Health, a San Francisco-based nonprofit with local operations at Glendale Memorial Hospital and Northridge Hospital, helped organize the event. “The goal is to create a culture of kindness and anti-bullying in the schools,” said Brian Hammel, chief executive of Dignity Health Northridge. “The challenge is to log different acts using a checklist, and everyone has an opportunity to participate.” At Limerick Elementary in Winnetka, selected by Dignity Health Northridge as this year’s champion school, classes competed against one another to see who could complete the most acts of kindness. They also held door-decorating contests, set up and ran through a “human tunnel” and released eco-friendly balloons containing friendly notes. “It’s great to see how invested they get and the enthusiasm within the school,” Hammel said. “The teachers and principals get really involved as well.” At Northridge Hospital, Dignity Health set up a booth for visitors to write get-well messages to patients, which were delivered with their food trays. The group held a “teddy bear clinic” at Glendale Memorial, and young patients at California Hospital in Downtown L.A. were treated to a visit from Darth Vader. Doctors and staff at all three locations completed kindness checklists of their own, and those at Northridge Hospital could redeem them for gift cards at the on-site cafeteria. “Obviously the goal would be to do this 52 weeks a year, right?” Hammel said. “But it’s a really good initiative. …It’s got a lot of legs and a lot of momentum.” Staff Reporter Helen Floersh can be reached at (818) 316-3121 or hfloersh@sfvbj.com.

-Advertisement-

Featured Articles

-Advertisement-
-Advertisement-

Related Articles

-Advertisement-
-Advertisement-