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Disaster Blankets For The Homeless

WILKES-BARRE — From the Jersey Shore to the Diamond City, thousands of recycled disaster blankets were delivered to Wilkes-Barre Thursday morning.

A tractor-trailer’s long journey from Virginia ended in reverse with the big rig carefully backing down a narrow stretch of East Jackson Street in Wilkes-Barre.

Volunteers and several homeless men helped unload boxes by hand and on carts into the warehouse at St. Vincent De Paul Kitchen.

Inside the boxes are around 5,000 disaster blankets donated by a group from the Richmond area called Gleaning for the World.

“The most that need it are going to get it.”

One man said he’s grateful for the donation from strangers after losing nearly everything.

“It’s been almost a year since I’ve been out of work. I’ve been taking odd jobs, I’m a carpenter and I take carpentry jobs. There’s no carpentry jobs now.”

The blankets have been cleaned and repackaged after they were used by volunteers and victims of Hurricane Sandy, in October 2012.

“They’re not the highest quality, but when it’s cold, any blanket works.”

Msgr. Joseph Kelly says this is the biggest donation for the homeless that he knows of.

“Usually we get two to 300 blankets in blanket drives. But 5000 in cases? No, not very often.”

Kitchen manager Mike Cianciotta hopes that the boxes of blankets that towered toward the ceiling will be shared before the next cold snap.

“We open our door like 7:30 now instead of 10:30, to let them in because of the cold weather. Especially the real homeless people, honestly, I don’t know how they survive.”

The disaster blankets will be given to shelters in Luzerne, Lackawanna and Monroe counties.

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