By Chris Casey | University Communications
DENVER - Blanket drives aren't just warm for the recipients of the donations. They're pretty warming for the people who organize the efforts, too.
At least that's the case for Danny Felipe-Morales, who is in the fifth year of his Annual Blanket Drive for the Homeless. Felipe-Morales, information technology operations coordinator at the University of Colorado Denver, last year collected a record 418 blankets, 62 pairs of socks and 79 coats.
"Four hundred (blankets) was my goal last year and I want to see if we could reach the same amount this year," he said.
This year's drive will continue until the end of February. Felipe-Morales, who is also president of the Exempt Professional Assembly at CU Denver, delivers the items to the Denver Rescue Mission, Samaritan House, Central Presbyterian Homeless Shelter and other shelters in Colorado.
"For me, it's just the joy of knowing that people are giving back," he said. "At first I had no idea how many people wanted to give back."
He's been gratified to see that every year more people, both at the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus and the wider Colorado community, want to contribute to the cause. He makes it easy on contributors -- just send him an e-mail at Daniel.FelipeMorales@ucdenver.edu -- and he'll come pick up your donation.
He got the idea for the drive five years ago after a random encounter with a homeless man in downtown Denver.
Donations poured in last year, helped by the exposure of a story in The Denver Post and a mention in Denver Mayor Michael Hancock's Season's Greetings Video.
Deb Steffenson, a special education teacher at West Jefferson Elementary School in Conifer, saw the Post story and had one of her classes collect items for the drive. Felipe-Morales drove to Conifer to pick up the donations.
"I went there and the kids right away started standing up and giving me hugs, and each kid did an art picture of me driving the blankets to the shelters," he said. "Before I left I gave each child a CU Denver lanyard and told them 'thank you for making a real difference in their community and that you are all my superheroes.' That day was easily my greatest highlight of 2012."
While blankets are the main item Felipe-Morales is seeking, he's also collecting socks, gloves, scarfs and coats for men, women and children.
Felipe-Morales has started a Facebook page to provide information about the drive. Like the DFM Annual Blanket Drive for the Homeless Facebook page here.
He notes that although the winter has been relatively mild so far, there are many cold days and nights ahead for the homeless. According to a 2012 Metro Denver Homeless Initiative study, there are more than 12,500 homeless people in the metro area.
Felipe-Morales's final note to colleagues is: "I appreciate any help you are willing to give this year. Remember, even one blanket makes a difference!"
(Photo: Danny Felipe-Morales delivers blankets and coats to the Denver Rescue Mission.)