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Friday, December 6, 2019

Campus

Staff Council to hold sock and blanket drive


UH Staff Council will hold its annual sock and blanket drive, which aims at assisting Houston’s community for the homeless Star of Hope Mission and Harris County Protective Services’ Guardianship Program from Oct. 31 through Nov. 21.

The Staff Council, an office designed to assist UH’s president and other departments, has performed the Sock and Blanket drive for 17 years. According to Staff Council Program Manager Mentor Rebecca Szwarc, because Star of Hope Mission desperately needed socks and blankets for the drive, the program carried the name of the two items. Today, several other new and used articles are taken as donations by the program.

“Although we began collecting other items after that, we never changed the name,” Szwarc said. “Because we began to get donations of household items, which Star of Hope didn’t accept at that time, we added a second charity — Covenant House — but continued to donate the clothes and blankets to Star of Hope.”

Szwarc said that Harris County Adult Protective Guardianship Program requests new items so they can be used as Christmas presents, which in most cases end up being the only gifts these homeless adults receive.

“Those gifts show them someone cares.  For UH staff members, it is a way for them to give back to the Houston community,” Szwarc said.

Ashley Ochoa is the executive assistant for the Houston Recovery Center, another organization benefiting from the Sock and Blanket Drive. Ochoa said that the initiative to include HRC in the program happened when a group from UHPD toured the center and asked if it would be interested in receiving the collected items.

“When the Houston Recovery Center first opened the Sobering Center as a diversion from jail in April of last year, we were only open to the Houston Police Department,” Ochoa said. “In May of this year, we opened to all law enforcement agencies in the Greater Houston area, including the University of Houston Police Department.”

Ochoa said that some of the items, such as socks, are sometimes lost or beyond cleaning, and that HRC will do laundry for clients when necessary. Although not everyone at the center is homeless, there is a significant portion that needs assistance.

“Houston Recovery Center has been in operation for 18 months, and we discovered that 36 percent of our clients are homeless,” Ochoa said. “Blankets and a warm pair of socks allow clients to feel better about themselves while meeting their basic needs.”

More information on the needed donation items and campus drop-off locations can be found on: http://www.uh.edu/staff-council/sock-blanket-drive/

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