By Catherine Gray Beuten
Integrated University Communications
(Jan. 8, 2010) It was December of 2008 and the elderly man sitting on a bench by the creek off Larimer and Speer Boulevard was freezing. “He couldn’t even speak,” recalls Danny Felipe-Morales. “I bought him a coffee and sandwich from Starbucks and convinced him to let me take him to the Denver Rescue Mission.”
When Felipe-Morales and the homeless man got to the Denver Rescue Mission they found it packed with people; volunteers were scrambling because they were encountering a shortage of warm blankets in the face of sub-zero temperatures. But what might have been a depressing scenario for some was instead an inspiration to Felipe-Morales. The young UC Denver employee and Metropolitan State College grad was determined to make a difference by gathering blankets for the homeless. His initial blanket drive in 2008 garnered an impressive 113 blankets that would help warm and comfort homeless men and women.
In November, Felipe-Morales, IT systems and support professional in the Office of the Registrar, launched the second annual blanket drive, adding socks to the wish list. The goal? Beat last year’s blanket count. The result? By the holiday week, 142 blankets had been donated to local shelters along with 156 pairs of socks. Not only that, since the Dec. 18 deadline Felipe-Morales has received 31 more blankets and 24 more pairs of socks, a total of a whopping 173 blankets and 180 pairs of socks.
“I attribute this year’s success to word being spread across friends and colleagues,” he says. “Many of the contributions came – and will continue coming – from elementary schools, karate schools and other universities and colleges across the metro area. I am grateful to see that we could work together in fighting for this cause.”
Felipe-Morales will continue to fight for this cause, planning to expand the blanket drive each year. “After asking these different shelters for suggestions for next year we came up with jackets and coats in addition to blankets,” he explains. “It won’t matter whether they are for men, women, children, thin, thick . . . any jacket would count.”
The shivering man on the park bench that below-freezing December eve might never know the wide-spread positive impact his suffering has inspired. But hopefully he’s continued to be the beneficiary. The University of Colorado Denver celebrates Felipe-Morales and all faculty, staff and students committed to “Giving Back” to the community.
“I want to thank and give kudos to everybody who participated this year,” Felipe-Morales says. “The idea that this grew from my personal experience helping one person to affecting many others really puts into perspective what one person and a little social networking could accomplish.”
E-mail Danny Felipe-Morales if you’d like your name on the list to be notified of the next holiday season blanket drive. Find out more about what you or your team can do to “Give Back.”