CHICAGO — A Mt. Greenwood woman collected dozens of blankets and winter clothing to donate to people who are homeless during this week’s dangerously cold weather.
Shannon McCann got the idea on Sunday when she saw a Facebook post from a friend talking about where people could donate to help the homeless during the winter, she said.
McCann was worried about people exposed to the weather — cold temperatures and winds are making it feel as cold as 50 below zero on Wednesday, and frostbite can occur in as little as five minutes — and decided to help.
Wanting to work quickly, the Mt. Greenwood woman decided to collect blankets and posted about her venture on social media.
The response was “crazy,” she said: Within a single day people had donated close to 70 blankets and other cold-weather items — coats, hats, scarves, shirts, sweatshirts, gloves and care packages with snack bars, gift cards for food and winter clothing. Someone threw in a brand new, heavy-duty winter coat and a bag of socks.
“I didn’t expect that many at all, especially within just 24 hours,” McCann said. “That was awesome.”
McCann and her family organized the items into 55 bags they could give away. They headed out on Tuesday — just when temperatures started to dip dangerously low — and spent five hours going around the Downtown area, looking for people who are homeless taking shelter under viaducts and handing them supplies that can help them stay warm.
They donated extra items to their church in suburban Oak Lawn.
The recipients “were really grateful. There was actually a lot of other people out there doing it, too,” McCann said. “You can just tell it really, really made [the recipients’] day, helping them out.”
McCann plans to do a similar project next year to help those in need during the winter.
Need to go somewhere warm? The city runs several warming centers. Click here for a full list. The Chicago Park District is also using more than 60 field houses as warming centers. Click here for a list of those spots.
Do stories like this matter to you? Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.