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Published: 11/30/2009

Blankets, coats being collected for needy

BY TOM HENRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Wrap Up Toledo and its younger cousin, Zip Up Toledo, began on Thanksgiving and will continue through St. Patrick's Day.

Wrap Up Toledo has been an annual blanket-collection drive for those in need of a little extra warmth and compassion for 16 years.

Zip Up Toledo, now in its second year, is a campaign to collect coats, hats, scarves, and gloves for the needy.

New this year is the addition of Glass City Federal Credit Union branches as drop-off points.

The branches, as well as Toledo's police and fire stations, will accept blankets and cold-weather clothing items.

Blankets, coats, hats, scarves, and gloves also can be dropped off at Team Sports and HoneyBaked Ham, both in the 6100 block of Merger Drive, north of Airport Highway and accessible from Holland-Sylvania Road.

"With the challenging economy, several of our clients have been asking for donations earlier this year," Wrap Up Toledo founder Harlan Joelson said.

"I have seen the numbers of those in need increase dramatically because of the economy and I would be remiss if Wrap Up Toledo could only help those in the colder months," Mr. Joelson, a Team Sports employee, said.

The group had a surplus of blankets going into the fall but needs to replenish its stock, he said.

New and slightly used blankets are requested.

The drive began in 1993, when Mr. Joelson was 31 and was taken aback by the sight of a homeless man shivering in a refrigerator box downtown.

Mr. Joelson responded by founding Wrap Up Toledo, thinking it would be a one-time deal. But people gave him blankets each year after that.

Last year, one of Mr. Joelson's friends, Dan Kurz, president of HoneyBaked Ham, launched Zip Up Toledo in conjunction with the blanket drive.

Mr. Kurz said Friday that more than 1,000 coats have been distributed, and community support for his fledgling program has been strong.

Details about Zip Up Toledo soon will be available on a new Web site at www.zipuptoledo.com, Mr. Kurz said.

The blankets and warm-weather clothing are donated to area soup kitchens, shelters, and service organizations that distribute them to the needy.

This also is the third year for a program in Kentucky called Wrap Up Lousville, founded at the University of Louisville by one of Mr. Joelson's sons, Trevor Joelson, 22. Students became so excited about it, they produced a video.

University of Louisville fraternities and sororities have scheduled an event for Saturday called a "Fort Building Competition." Each participating group will collect enough blankets to build "forts," then turn their blankets over to the needy.

Contact Tom Henry at:

thenry@theblade.com

or 419-724-6079.



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