For Immediate Release
Tuesday, September 19, 2023
Scott McLarty, firstname.lastname@example.org
Pat LaMarche, Epicjourney10@gmail.com
Friday, Sept. 22: Homeless #MemorialBlanket Project to measure steps of the Penn. State Capitol for blankets for Dec. 21 display of blankets in Harrisburg
• When: Friday, September 22, 10 a.m.
• Where: Pennsylvania State Capitol, 3rd and State Streets, Harrisburg, Pa.
• Several blankets will be at the Sept. 22 event including ones recently shipped from artisans in Texas; Pennsylvanians and others from around the US with sewing, knitting, crocheting, and quilting skills are contributing blankets which will be distributed to people experiencing homelessness: see https://memorialblanket.org
Harrisburg, Pa. — Organizers of the Homeless Memorial Blanket Project will gather in front of the Pennsylvania State Capitol building on Friday, Sept. 22, to measure the steps in preparation for a Dec. 21 display of handmade blankets and quilts for people experiencing homelessness.
The display in December 2023 is the third consecutive annual exhibit and follows a public display on the West Lawn of the Capitol in Washington DC on Dec. 21, 2022, after which the blankets and quilts were distributed to families and individuals in dire need during the winter. The 1,179 blankets and quilts were hand-crafted and contributed by people from across the US, including many from Pennsylvania.
For photos of the creative and colorful 2022 display, visit the Homeless Memorial Blanket Project’s web site (https://memorialblanket.org). Blanks and quilts in the December 2023 will also be distributed to people without homes.
“In a world often filled with uncertainty and challenges, we believe that acts of kindness and unity can make a profound difference,” said Bishop James S. Dunlop of the Lower Susquehanna Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, a key partner in the project.
Bringing the display home from Washington DC, organizers will hold displays in Harrisburg and other cities in 2023. (Locations will be announced closer to the date). Several blankets and quilts that have already been made will be on display on the Capitol steps in Harrisburg on Sept. 22, 2023, as volunteers gather information for the numbers of blankets needed to fill the stairs as well as other logistics.
Organizers and blanketmakers will be on hand with roll-out tape measures and brooms. The entire walkway of the capitol will have to be cleaned and cleared on Dec. 21. Volunteers will also estimate the time required to prepare the steps.
Along with those made and contributed by Pennsylvanians and others across the US, blankets and quilts are arriving from around the world. Many of the blankets and quilts are being designed for children, individuals, and families without homes, as in 2023.
“Blankets are more than mere pieces of cloth; they symbolize care, warmth, and hope. By coming together as a community to create these blankets, we not only provide a physical source of comfort but also a symbol of our shared commitment to supporting those less fortunate among us,” said Deacon Marsha Roscoe, Lower Susquehanna Synod Communications and Director for Mission.
Expanding the Definition of Homelessness
Organizers are urging the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to expand its limited definition of homelessness, which excludes many people without homes from receiving shelter and assistance. Runaway inflation in 2023, with skyrocketing housing costs and rent, has worsened the crisis.
“Shelters can’t call a person homeless unless the person can prove they’re homeless. That’s a tall order, proving a negative. I understand the quandary lawmakers and civil servants find themselves in when confronting the problem. It’s a daunting problem with too few resources allocated to mitigate the suffering. But that’s no reason not to count people without a fixed, regular place to stay,” said #MemorialBlanket founder Pat LaMarche.
“Under the current definition if an unhoused person stays with friends over the Christmas holiday for three days, they are no longer considered homeless. These definitions must change so the scope of the problem can be better understood,” said LaMarche.
A journalist and advocate, LaMarche described the problem when it afflicts unstably housed individuals and families nearly a decade ago in one of her many articles on the crisis.
“There’s no available government assistance for housing. The Section 8 Housing Voucher Program is what the experts call ‘oversubscribed.’ That means there are huge waiting lists, many folks will wait years to get a voucher. Many parents fear losing their children if they go to a shelter or admit to authorities that they are living in their car, storage shed, or the woods.” (https://www.huffpost.com/entry/if-hud-were-in-charge-of_b_6086890)
Contributing Blankets and Quilts
Those interested in contributing blankets to the Harrisburg display or interested in organizing a display in their own state, city, or town can contact contact Pat LaMarche at email@example.com.
Typical blankets dimensions are 45″ x 80″ and 60″ x 80″ with a variety of fabrics, fibers, and colors.
Anyone interested in participating can sign up for their state at https://memorialblanket.org.
The Homeless Memorial Blanket Project is hosted by the Charles Bruce Foundation (https://charlesbrucefoundation.com), which is located in central Pennsylvania. The Dec. 21 display will be an arts installation by this nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.
Homeless Memorial Blanket Project on Facebook (national group)
To find a state Facebook group, type Homeless Remembrance Blanket and the state’s name in Search
“Carlisle blanket project covers U.S. Capitol lawn, warms unstably housed”
The Sentinel (Penn.), Dec. 22, 2022
“Handmade blankets for homeless crafted with ‘love’ come to Capitol Hill”
The Washington Post, Dec. 22, 2022
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