Teen raises money to donate 400 blankets for Pittsfield's homeless

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PITTSFIELD — One Berkshire School student hopes her efforts help the city's homeless sleep a little more soundly this season.

Ruby Merritt, 18, has raised enough money to purchase 400 water-resistant wool blankets to donate to area organizations. The blankets will go to shelters run by ServiceNet, Construct, Soldier On, as well as the Pittsfield Fire Department and the Christian Center.

Merritt, a senior at the Sheffield school, said this is her third year raising money for blankets under the project she calls Blanket the Berkshires, which has grown each year. This year's batch of blankets is 50 percent wool — aid workers say this is the superior makeup — and cost $10 each.

She said she raised the money from within her school community.

Cheryl Bassett, site manager for Barton's Crossing, said she'll use the blankets at the shelter.

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"They'll be utilized on a nightly basis," she said just before loading four 25-blanket bundles into a large van she brought for the occasion. "Blankets go pretty quick."

About 50 blankets will go to the Fire Department, and some will go toward emergency kits that the newly formed Pittsfield Emergency Recovery Committee is putting together.

The Christian Center will keep the rest, said Executive Director Ellen Merritt, who is Ruby Merritt's aunt. The elder Merritt said the center sees several people a week in need of blankets after winter shelter programs expire.

For those sleeping on the streets, Ellen Merritt said, "this is the perfect blanket."

"We see at least a couple people a week who are unsheltered," she said.

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.


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