300 Blankets sharing the warmth of friendship at Christmas

This year the management team at 300 Blankets is volunteering to help organise a Christmas party for the volunteers and companions of the Compeer program.

Compeer is a friendship building  buddy program matching volunteers with a companion who is receiving mental health treatment. They meet weekly to chat about life, share interests and bond over activities which clients would not otherwise have. It is a simple gesture but these simple acts can be profound. The Compeer program provides the invaluable gift of friendship.

As part of the invitation only Christmas party being held on Saturday 8 December 2012, we would like to organise performers to sing and play music to create a friendly, energetic Christmas celebration.

We are also looking for organisations who would like to donate 80 units of products as gifts to the Compeer volunteers and companions.

If you and your musical group would like a chance to volunteer to help create an unforgettable afternoon or would like to donate gifts, please submit your interest via the link below by Sunday 28 October. We are interested in communicating with any group who would like to give back to the community during the season for giving.

Click here to volunteer or to organise a donation of gifts.

If you would like to know more about the Compeer program, follow the link below:

Our Journey Thus Far

As we pass the midway point of the coldest months of the year, I want take a moment to reflect on 300 Blankets first year in operation.

The 300 Blankets volunteer initiative begun at the start of the year as we reflected on what mattered most to us, what we wanted to do for ourselves and what we can do for the world around us. We agreed that it is easy for one to say, “I want to do this, this, this, this and this” but to actually get up and do it is a completely different ball game.

Personally, I’ve been saying that I want to do volunteer work for as long as I can remember but quite honestly had not done as much as I would have liked. Over coffee, we discussed our love for Melbourne, and we talked about the homelessness and what we could do. We marked down goals and set dates on what we would like to achieve.

Since that fateful afternoon, 300 Blankets has held two fundraising events. The 300 Blankets team have volunteered in various community activities to help support the homeless. We have met amazing people who do incredible selfless things. We have been featured in the MX and Melbourne Weekly. We have been recognised and selected as a finalist in the Myer Support Office Inspirational Peoples Awards for Community Passion. But what matters most is that with the support of generous like-minded supporters of our initiative, we have been able to raise over 1800 blankets for the homeless this winter.

Our blankets are being distributed throughout Melbourne and Victoria. A story has come back to us about a homeless gentleman living in a garage in Moe. He had been living alone in the cold without even a blanket to keep him warm. This is exactly what we set out to achieve.

Over the year, we have experienced so many life changing moments. It is amazing what the “spend less time thinking and more time doing” mentality can do. Seeing what we can do, and the impact we would like to have on our community, we are going to keep building 300 Blankets. The road is long but we are proud to have started the journey. We hope that our achievements this year will inspire others to do the same. We live in a world of endless opportunities with the only thing holding us back is ourselves. Please contact us if you or your organisation would like to support and help 300 Blankets grow. Together we can keep our community warm.

Volunteering with the Vinnies soup vans

On the 20th of June the 300 Blankets team were invited on a special St Vincent de Paul soup van run. On the night, Vinnies organised a special van to drive our team on their nightly soup run. Before we set off, the President of the St Vincent de Paul Victoria Soup Vans, Br. Doug, presented us with a certificate of appreciation. In return, I presented St Vincent de Paul with the first of the blankets raised from our fundraising efforts. This was the start of what turned out to be a very emotional night for the entire team.

Since the beginning of our volunteer initiative, the team and everyone involved knew what we were doing – to raise money and play our part in keeping the homeless community warm. We knew from our countless conversations with people working for the homeless that blankets is crucial in winter and there is never enough. But the night we volunteered with Vinnies completely changed the perception of our work and the purpose of our efforts.

On this particular night, we followed the Fitzroy soup vans, making seven stops across the Melbourne CBD. The main aim for the night was to learn more and see first hand the amazing work Vinnies do every night. We were given the opportunity to also meet the people living rough and personally present the blankets to the people who need it the most. With 72 blankets in the van, we thought we would be comfortable in handing them out on the night.

At the first stop, we met people living in parklands. I met and spoke to many people and admittedly to my shock,  many people I could personally relate to. People who had similar journeys to Australia as my parents. It was hard to not be emotional.

The night continued and at each stop, stories about individual lives and how people got to situations where they are now flooded in. Everyone was so eager to have an opportunity to share their personal stories. And this was our biggest learning of the night – there is more to being homeless than the loss of physical possessions. Being homeless is not just about not having a permanent place to stay. It’s not even just about having a roof above one’s head. It’s the loss of the support and care of family and friends that affect people the most.

We personally handed out 56 blankets on the night, but what we gained most was being trusted and having people open their hearts to us. One of the most memorable parts of the night was when Amanda spoke to a lady at one of the stops. After an emotional conversation, Amanda hugged the lady which brought both to tears. One of the leading Vinnies volunteers told us that, that hug was worth more than any blanket, any material item we could have given her. We gave her the warmth of genuine care and compassion.

Our learnings from the night has sparked a greater motivation for all of us at 300 Blankets – to work harder and strive to make a bigger difference in our community.

Let’s keep our community warm!

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StreetCount 2012

Over the past 4 years the city of Melbourne has been gaining information about people sleeping rough through the StreetCount initiative. StreetCount involves around 140 volunteers wanting to help the homeless community through survey people sleeping rough on the street.  The information gained from doing this activity allows the City of Melbourne to act with the intention to provide better support for the homeless community.

On the 6th of June, while many others were sleeping in the darkness of 4.15am in the morning, 5 members from the 300 Blankets team joined volunteers from all areas of Melbourne at the Melbourne Town Hall to participate in the 2012 StreetCount. With warm coffees. instructional booklets, folders, pens, torches to prepare to ‘go out in the field’ to conduct their surveys. Teams were split into groups of 2 to walk the streets and lane ways of Melbourne CBD, North Melbourne and West Melbourne – looking for homeless people to count and conduct the simple survey. Each pair were given a ‘thank you pack’, to be handed out to participants of the survey. This pack consisted of every essentials such as toothbrush, paste, information/contact numbers card, phone card, Met card and a voucher for a hot breakfast.

The 300 Blankets team covered a large portion of the Melbourne CBD. Stretching from Flinders Street up to La Trobe Street and Elizabeth Street to William Street, we walked with upmost care to find and approach homeless people sleeping rough.  This was an eye opening experience for the team and we gained valuable first hand knowledge of the homeless situation in Melbourne.

The final results from StreetCount2012 as reported by The Age newspaper, was that in that morning hours between 4:30am – 8:30am, 101 people were detected sleeping rough in areas such as park benches and doorways. Of the 54 people surveyed, almost two third have been homeless for more than two years. It’s the sad truth hidden in the shadows of our great city. The results have opened our eyes to the reality of the situation and have provided greater motivation for us to try to make a difference.

Click here to read The Age full article on StreetCount2012

Brains for Blankets raises 856 blankets!!!

The 300 Blankets team would like to thank everyone who came and supported the Brains for Blankets trivia night on the 2nd of June 2012. On the night, 187 people in 20 teams competed in the sold out event to win amazing prizes generously donated by friends and supporters of 300 Blankets.

Our challenge for the night was to beat the amazing number of 842 blankets raised at Music for Blankets. Through ticket sales, raffles, mini games and silent auctions, we raised an amazing 856 blankets for the homeless community! The result together with the first event, has helped 300 Blankets raise 1698 blankets in time for winter 2012! From a crazy idea in January, this incredible number really shows the amount of support the people of Melbourne has for the homeless.

Let’s keep our community warm!

Congratulations to Smarty Pints for coming first in trivia!

The night would not have been possible without the support from the volunteers, generous organisations, artists, St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria and Hanover. A special thank you to Br. Doug – President of St Vincent de Paul Society Soup Vans in Victoria, for making an inspirational speech on soup vans and homelessness.

If you would like to share your photos and videos taken from the night, please send them to 300blankets.events@gmail.com.

Brains On!

With one week to go till Brains for Blankets, the team has been working long into the night to prepare for what will be an awesome trivia night.  We are in the process of preparing wonderful prizes generously donated by friends of 300 Blankets.  We can’t wait for next Saturday – 2nd of June, when we will have our next opportunity to raise much needed funds to purchase blankets for the homeless.  Brains for Blankets will be a great trivia night with raffles, silent auctions, mini games and prizes.

There is only one table left at Brains for Blankets.  If you would like to participate in the trivia night next week, register your team of up to 10 now!  We can’t wait to see you next week.

300 Blankets presents Brains for Blankets

300 Blankets is proud to announce our second fundraising event for 2012, Brains for Blankets. Brains for Blankets is a trivia and games night to be held at Sofias Pizza House in Camberwell. The events team at 300 Blankets have lined up some awesome questions to test your wits, great games and raffle prizes to test your skills and luck.

Due to unexpected demands for tables, teams of up to 10 are highly recommended to register ASAP. Don’t miss out on a fun filled night supporting the homeless community. There are only a few tables left!

Brains for Blankets

Date: Saturday, 2nd June 2012
Venue: Sofia’s Pizza House – 857 Burke Rd, Camberwell
Time: Arrive at 6:00pm for a 6:30pm start
Cost per person: $25.00 (+$0.30 booking fee)

Brains for Blankets is going to continue the 300 Blankets fundraising initiative in 2012. See you and your friends all there on the night!

Our first event – Music for Blankets, raised 842 blankets!

The team at 300 Blankets would like to thank everyone who came and supported Music for Blankets on the 12th of May 2012.  The musicians who performed on the night were absolutely sensational! Atkinson Jones; Sophea Hay and Joanna Tran; Graham and Sinead Horne; Joel Velasco, Christian Velasco and Rupert Lugo; Yu Lin and Nathan Liow; Marlon Winterborne; and The Keiths! performed unforgettable sets in front of a full house!

Over 240 people came to support the first 300 Blankets event. Through ticket sales, the BBQ and raffles, we are excited to announce that our supporters have so far helped raise 842 blankets for the homeless community! From a dream of raising 300 blankets in early 2012, this is an absolutely incredible result! We at 300 Blankets would like to thank all the volunteers, performers and artists, Hanover and St Vincent de Paul Society, and sponsors involved in making the night a huge success.

A special thank you to Tony Keenan – CEO of Hanover, for making an inspiring speech about homelessness in Melbourne and the wonderful work done at Hanover.

If you would like to share your photos and videos taken from the night, please send them to 300blankets.events@gmail.com.

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Music for Blankets, 5pm Saturday 12th May – as featured in mX

Featured on page 4 of yesterday’s mX, 300 Blankets will be holding its first fundraising event tomorrow in a spectacular fashion.

Music for Blankets will be held at Fabrique Bar – 272 City Road, with doors opening at 5:00pm. We have an awesome line up of amazing musicians and bands, beautiful artwork on display and a fundraising sausage sizzle.

Arrive early, and stay with us for the evening. Each of the talented performers brings something unique and special to the evening – you will not want to miss out!

Tickets can be purchased online at www.trybooking.com/BJPB or at the door.