Philly Warmth has been happening as a personal project for about 17 years. It started with Robert Bleattler (49), collecting coats, hats, scarves, etc… from friends and family, and taking a car-load up to Independence Hall, and Love Park on Christmas morning to give the donations to anyone in need who showed up. Over the years more and more people donated, and his son Robert (A.) Bleattler (22) joined in on the project.
In 2011, with the help of Genesis Healthcare in Kennett Square, and the employees of KML Law Group, over 1000 articles of clothing were collected from employees, friends, and family. The response was so unexpected that many of the donations had to be taken to local shelters and other charity organizations to avoid having extras left over.
After facing some tough family financial decisions, the house where the donations used to be stored was no longer available, and since 2011, it has been impossible for us to take any donations from friends and family, simply because of the lack of space, and time.
Our goal is to establish a financial foundation allowing us to have a property (or storage unit) to store all donations, create, and maintain a working website, and spread the word about PhillyWarmth.Org year round!
Above written by Robert Anthony Bleattler
From my perspective, it all started on a cool May night in 1995. I was in the city with some friends, out on the town having a good time. It got late I lost track of time, and missed the last train out of the city! I wasn’t about to pay for a room and it was too late to call for a ride, so I figured I would wander around for a few hours until the first train in the morning. Well that few hours ended up being more like 10 hours, and totally changed the way I looked at life. It made me more humble and very thankful for things I have, a roof over my head, food, and warmth. Things I had always taken for granted, that they would just always be there.
I had been to the city many times, but I had never wandered the subway concourses, and the alleyways of the city, on foot at night, alone. It was an eye-opening experience for me; I had seen homeless on the corner from time to time but never imagined the whole outdoor culture that existed. I met close to 50 people that night, and every one of them had a story about how life lead them here, and most were happy to share those stories. Many of these people were normal people like you and I, living paycheck to paycheck that had one bad fall just snowball out of control leaving them here, that could very easily have been you or me!
I slept for a good 12 hours when I returned home the next morning, but dreamed of nothing but those people I had encountered. I thought about it a lot, what could I do to help? I do not have the resources to help all those people, or even any of those people. As the months passed, and summer was ending the thought of those people I met being outside in winter really bothered me. So I started asking everyone I knew to clean out their closets, and give me any unused hats, coats, gloves, scarves,etc. I could at least make sure they were warm!
Now here we are in 2013 headed for 2014 and we are ready to take this project to the next level. After 2 years dormant, things are getting back on track and we really want to take this up a notch or 5. My son Anthony (yes we call him by his middle name) has started the Phillywarmth.org funding project to help us make this project what it should be, a fully functional, self-sustaining not for profit agency that helps those people on the streets, who want the chance to be off the streets, and return to pursuing their American dream. Because I cannot imagine it was ever any persons dream to live on the streets!
Please help us spread the word, and donate in any way that you can
Your donation will aid in several parts of this process:
• Establishing the project as a licensed and functioning Non-Profit organization
• Securing the funds to obtain a piece of property (or large storage solution) to store donations
• Securing advertising for the foundation
• Securing transportation for donations to be delivered on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other dates yet to be decided
• Create relationships with community out-reach programs, businesses, and media personalities in order to spread the word
Your donation is helping a great cause; keeping people warm in the frigid winter months, when many people simply have nowhere to go but outdoors.
Once we have established everything, we will be reaching out for volunteers, and everyone (non-anonymous) who donates will be acknowledged.
We hope to have this project off the ground and FLYING before next winter, which is why we’ve set a deadline for August 31st, 2014.
With an unemployment rate of 11% (August 2013) and over 12,000 homeless recorded in 2012 in the Philadelphia area, there has never been a time when programs like this one are more necessary.
If you have any questions, or would like to contribute to the cause in some other way feel free to contact us.