PA Blanket Project Warms Babies

Event Calls Attention to Homelessness

Diane Nilan
3 min readDec 2, 2023

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This homeless baby was fortunate to have childcare. Photo Diane Nilan

Crawl into bed on these cold winter nights and what do you do? Pull up your blanket. Imagine you are a parent with small kids. Times got tough and now you’re sleeping in your car with your little ones wrapped around you and not enough blankets to keep your family warm. Homelessness — a parent’s worst nightmare; being cold worsens it.

This year, on the steps of the Pennsylvania State Capitol, the Homeless Remembrance Blanket Project will focus on the smallest members of this nation’s unhoused population — babies and toddlers. December 21, National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, will be commemorated by volunteers spreading handmade blankets on the steps to remind lawmakers and the public that millions of babies, toddlers, kids of all ages, and adults are houseless, and many even blanket-less.

December 21. 2022. blankets displayed on the west lawn of the US Capitol. Photo Diane Nilan

This is the third such display sponsored by the Charles Bruce Foundation, a Carlisle, PA-based nonprofit supporting writers, artists, and musicians. Pat LaMarche, one of the CBF leaders, first invited blanket makers to knit, crochet, or quilt blankets that covered the steps of First Lutheran Church in Carlisle in 2021. She ramped it up to cover the lawn in front of the US Capitol last year. Now she and her volunteer crew will warm the PA capitol steps.

The blankets made for this occasion will be distributed to those in need following the event. In addition to adult and baby blankets, supporters are urged to contribute disposable diapers, hygiene supplies, baby bottles, and formula. (Blanket drop-off info)

People large and small find themselves without a place to live for countless reasons. Most live through it and may get lucky and get help to get a place to call home. Countless others die on the streets, the reason behind on December 21, the longest night of the year. “Remember the dead and care about the living,” is the chant we used in our commemoration of this memorial as we paraded around the shelter I operated for many years.

See For Yourself! Bring Your Family!

Perhaps the biggest impact of this event is when the viewer, seeing the array of hand-crafted blankets of all sizes, realizes that each one will be handed to someone without a home of their own. Mentally grasping the enormity of this unnecessary condition may follow. Realizing that millions of kids, including babies and toddlers, also lack a place to live will hopefully spur actions in community across the land.

The project’s organizers urge people to come by the enthralling art exhibit on the afternoon of December 21. It’s also a perfect opportunity to drop off diapers and essential baby items. While in Harrisburg, visit the Capitol.

Now, imagine crawling under a blanket made for you by a total stranger. That gift evokes a sense of warmth that exceeds the blanket’s power. It’s the least we can do.

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Diane Nilan

Founder/pres. HEAR US Inc., gives voice & visibility to homeless families & youth, ran shelters, advocate, filmmaker, author, 18 yrs. on US backroads. hearus.us