Local Companies Donate Blankets, Clothing to Red Cross

WARE, SPRINGFIELD — Berkshire Blanket Co. of Ware recently donated a large supply of blankets to the American Red Cross for use in disaster response and relief efforts throughout Massachusetts.

The donation supports several Red Cross chapters across the Commonwealth, including the Pioneer Valley Chapter serving Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin Counties; the Massachusetts Bay Chapter serving 145 cities and towns in Eastern Mass.; and the Cape Cod and Islands Chapter serving Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard.

The mission of the American Red Cross is to provide relief to victims of disasters and help people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies. To accomplish this mission, every chapter must work to ensure they are prepared to meet the needs of the communities they serve. Disaster response can range from assisting a single family at a house fire to helping hundreds of individuals displaced by disaster. Chapters assist to provide shelter, food, and clothing to clients.

“All Red Cross chapters are required to have adequate disaster relief supplies on hand to make sure we have the capacity to respond when needed. This donation has ensured that each of the benefiting chapters has an adequate supply of blankets to meet the long term needs of the communities served,” said Mary Nathan, Director of Disaster Services for the Pioneer Valley Chapter.

All Red Cross disaster relief is provided free to clients, thanks to the support of businesses, organizations, and individuals who support Red Cross work on an ongoing basis. The Berkshire Blanket Co. donation is significant in that it allows each chapter to direct its financial resources to other aspects of direct client care. More than 2,000 blankets were provided, valued at more than $35,000.

Collectively, the three chapters respond to nearly 700 local disasters each year. The blankets will warm families who have fled from their homes; they will also be used to supply disaster relief shelters throughout the Commonwealth.

“We are so grateful for this outstanding gift,” said Paige Thayer, director of chapter support for the Pioneer Valley Chapter. “Berkshire Blanket Co., through this donation, will help hundreds of individuals and families in our hometowns and across the Commonwealth.”

Meanwhile, the MassMutual Center of Springfield recently hosted an employee clothing drive to support the Pioneer Valley Chapter’s People’s Center program. The People’s Center is a free clothing store based in downtown Springfield which is available to the homeless and working poor as well as Red Cross disaster clients.

A recent shortage of summer clothing prompted a special employee clothing drive at the MassMutual Center, the employer of Pioneer Valley Chapter board member Matt Hollander. MassMutual Center has been a long-time Red Cross supporter and regularly participates in chapter events and programs.

Each year, more than 15,000 individuals come to the People’s Center for clothing for themselves and their family members. All clothing is provided free of charge to those in need. The program is supported by the United Way of Pioneer Valley and run by a part-time manager and a group of volunteers.

The store is also supported by community donations of seasonablly appropriate clothing in clean, good condition. Household goods, toys, and furnishings are not accepted due to space limitations.

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