Eugene business owner donates 50 blankets to local shelters

EUGENE, Ore. - The latest cold snap has caused an emergency blanket shortage at local warming centers. Warming centers in Lane County put out the call for help last week.

Paul Neville from St. Vincent de Paul says they have been rapidly going through blankets this season. Last year, the warming centers only activated ten times. So far this season, they are already activated 12, and there are more freezing nights expected this week.

"Here's what we need in this order: blankets, blankets, blankets and more blankets," Neville says.

The owners of Workout Buddies, a Eugene-based business, watched NBC16's story last week about the urgent need for blankets and took it to heart.

On Tuesday, Mike de La Vergne and Katie Juth stepped up to fill that need.

"We created Workout Buddies to help people," de La Vergne says. "When you sit back and look at your own community and the struggles they have, we wanted to see what we could do to help out locally."

"I worry about how to cool down sometimes," de La Vergne adds. " And these people worry about how to survive."

"It's hard when you hear things on the news that the city is in a desperate need for blankets," Juth says. "Knowing that I'm able to help makes me feel really good."

They bought 50 blankets to help fill the need.

"I got a lot of crazy wild looks as I was going down aisles with shopping carts full of blankets," de La Vergne remembers.

They started in downtown Eugene, where they handed out a few blankets, hand warmers and hot coffee to people braving the freezing temperatures in doorways and street corners.

The bulk of the blankets went to a St. Vincent de Paul drop-off location. From there they will go to the Egan Warming Center and the Dusk till Dawn shelter. Volunteers at these shelters expect to sleep more than 500 people every night this week.

While the donation was appreciated by all, this is just a small dent in a big problem.

Neville says blankets can only be used and laundered five or six times before they have to be thrown away. He says, at this rate, they need another 500 blankets to make it through the winter.

"These are real people; there's a real need," Neville says. "Their donations make a real difference."

"We all take it for granted how easy it is to stay warm," de La Vergne adds." And there's people out here that clearly have no idea what that's like."

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