Kate Gantz felt inspired to help the homeless when a stranger gave her $100.
Gantz attended a retreat for Catholic confirmation as a high school sophomore. Every year, the speaker for the event selects one person to receive $100. The person can do whatever he or she wants with the money. That year, the speaker chose her.
“I was told that typically what people do is give the $100 to the church,” Gantz said. “I wanted to be different.”
She decided to use the money to make blankets for the homeless instead of giving it to the church. She was able to make 15 blankets with $100.
Gantz, who is now a Concordia sophomore, loved the project so much that she made it a yearly tradition.
When she continued the project her junior and senior year of high school, she collaborated with the National Honor Society members because they could volunteer to make blankets and add three hours to their required community service. With so much support, she was able to produce over 70 blankets in one project.
This year is no exception. What started as an individual project evolved into an activity among friends. This year, however, Gantz calls upon the campus community to get involved.
Gantz usually collects financial support from people interested in making blankets until Thanksgiving. On Black Friday, she purchases the fabric from Jo-Ann Fabrics for 75 percent off in her hometown, Eagan, Minn. With the extra savings, Gantz can make a blanket for $10-12.
The blankets require two types of fleece fabric. One usually has a pattern. The other is typically a solid color that matches the other fabric. The edges of the two fabrics are cut at one-inch intervals and then the strips are tied together.
This year, Gantz plans to enlist the aid of Fjelstad Hall residents and Campus Ministry Commission to make the project bigger than what she and a few friends could accomplish. She received approval from her hall director to run a change drive in Fjelstad Hall to raise funds for materials.
“At the rate things are going, it’s getting bigger than I was expecting,” Gantz said.
Todd Schuldt, co-commissioner of CMC, said he will provide logistical support that Gantz could not provide as someone who is working independently of a campus organization. One concern is reserving a table in the Atrium to fundraise.
Gantz set $250 as her fundraising goal this year. In the future, she would like to collaborate with CMC to make her project a part of BREW week activities. Schuldt likes the idea.
“I think it’s definitely a possibility,” he said. “It would be good to put some more action into BREW week.”
The blankets made this fall will go to Churches United for the Homeless and the New Life Center. Both organizations are faith-based shelters.
The gratification Gantz receives when she gives the blankets to organizations that need them is enough to keep making blankets.
On one occasion, Gantz personally delivered blankets to a shelter for people with mental disabilities. The staff allowed her to hand out the blankets to people in the shelter. It was the first time she saw her blankets’ final destination. When she saw her recipients’ reactions to having both a visitor and a warm gift, she was convinced to continue her project indefinitely.
Sophomore Eli Johnson looks forward to making blankets with Gantz. Though he can’t contribute financially to the cause, he intends to help put the blankets together.
“The fact that a busy college student is taking time out of their day to help the community is special,” Johnson said. “Whatever impact it does make, it will be exciting to see.”
Gantz is surprised by other Cobbers’ interest in helping with the project. She was worried that students would not be able to afford to donate to her cause and that they would not want to participate.
“I’m honestly shocked,” she said. “It’s confirming that a lot of people feel the same way as I do.”
She hopes that the blankets will be like a Christmas gift to the people who receive them.
“Having a blanket reminds me of warm happiness,” Gantz said. “[Giving a blanket] is a gesture of showing that you care for someone you don’t even know.”
I am a senior print journalism and global studies major. My passion for journalism stems from a desire to bring the world to the reader. I train actively in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai boxing. I live on coffee and Diet Coke. On a beautiful day, you might find me riding my motorcycle around town.