Competitive philanthropic nostalgia is the idea behind the annual event collecting blankets for the homeless across the United States. At the University of Toledo, students took that philanthropy to the next level by collecting the largest amount of blankets in the event’s history at UT.
Wrap Up Toledo is an interactive event in which student organizations collect blankets to donate and participate in events to win prizes. According to the event’s website, students provide support for a specific and tangible need: blankets. On Oct. 1 in the Student Recreation Center, 26 student groups collected over 2,818 blankets for the homeless.
Noelle Marva, a third-year majoring in cosmetic science and formulation design, participated in Wrap Up with her sorority, Kappa Delta. Marva said participating in Wrap Up is one of her favorite things to do.
“It’s always to give back to the community and I’m always looking for ways to show leadership and help others,” Marva said.
The event is hosted by UT’s chapter of Mortar Board, with help from 1Matters and UT Bridge Club. Wrap Up co-chairs Pat Ryan and Amber Gasparini were pleased with the events turnout.
“People get involved in Wrap Up to show that we really are one community here at Toledo and are willing to help one another as well as those who may be less fortunate,” Gasparini, a fourth-year exercise science and pre-medicine student, said.
Student organizations competed in two different competitions: to collect the most blankets and to work with other groups to build a unique, structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing blanket fort using the blankets they were able to collect in the weeks leading up the event. The winning fraternity in the blanket competition raised over 700 blankets.
“The more blankets we have the more we can give to other homeless shelters outside of Tent City,” Gasparini said. “It also gives us more money to buy other items such as hats, gloves, socks etc.”
Wrap Up was started in Toledo in 1993, according to the event’s website. Harlan Joelson was running a mayoral campaign for his father. While putting up campaign signs in downtown Toledo, Harlan parked and was met by a naked man in a box who yelled, “Hey man, why are you parking in front of my house?”
Joelson didn’t say anything to the man and instead got back into his truck and drove off. He couldn’t stop thinking about the man and the first action he could think to take was to get the man a blanket to cover him up. He went to a local store, got the blanket and took it back to the man, never exchanging a word.
After, Joelson went to his friends, family and co-workers and asked if they had any used blankets lying around to take to the homeless shelter. He collected about 100 blankets that first year.
Over the next 18 years, Harlan would go on to collect over 75,000 blankets for those fighting homelessness in Toledo.
“Donating blankets is almost like giving someone a hug without actually being there,” Marva said. “By giving someone a blanket, you’re essentially wrapping your love around them and it's pretty cool because you can do that while being miles away from them.”