Youngsters join Blanket Challenge on FB to help Homeless

Bhubaneswar, Nov 24: Youngsters in Odisha posted an idea on social networking site Facebook about 15 days ago. Now, many of them are joining the cause to keep the homeless locals in Bhubaneswar warm during the winter.

A group of 35 youngsters, many of whom came to know one another through Facebook, have started a "Donate a Blanket Challenge" here to collect old blankets and other woollen clothes for the homeless people who are spending nights on railway platforms and bus stands and by roadsides.

The youngsters, coming from engineering, management, medical and arts sectors, are collecting the winter stuff by opening small centres at various places and moving door-to-door in the city to seek donations.

"After seeing homeless people sleeping under an open sky in this winter without even a single blanket, our three-four friends decided to help them. We made a Facebook page "Donate a Blanket Challenge" for promotion of our idea. Many youngsters have joined the initiative," Durga Charan Samal, a member of the group, told IANS.

They posted pictures and shared their vision on the page. The idea worked well. Around 35 volunteers are working to collect and distribute the blankets and winter clothing.

Samal said the volunteers have collected 500 old blankets and woollens in the last 15 days, and are distributing these among the destitute people of the city.

As the professionals work during the day, they organise collection camps Sundays at some places.

"Last Sunday, we opened a counter in Shastrinagar area. We already opened a counter in front of the Ram Mandir in Janpath here to encourage people for donation. The response is good. We will continue this till December end," said Snehashish Senapati, an engineering student.

He urged people of other towns to organise similar camps in their areas.

When asked about the "Donate a Blanket Challenge", Soumya Ranjan Mohanty, a member of the group, said: "We were inspired by the "Ice Bucket Challenge", which went viral in the social media to raise awareness about the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. So, we decided to promote it by that name."

"This will lead the society to a bright future...a better tomorrow," said Sunita Garabadu, Odia film actress.