Every person deserves to feel secure, to be warm and to have hope. That’s the mission of Blankets of Hope, a nonprofit created by Marc Goldstein 5 years ago to provide fleece blankets to homeless shelters, cancer patients, hospitals, veterans and children’s homes.
Goldstein was inspired to create Blankets of Hope from reading the news. At the time the City of Reading was rated as one of the poorest cities in America. Being in the promotion products industry, Goldstein’s customers would often buy embroidered blankets as a gifts. The idea stuck with him, what could he do with a blanket to help others.
Now he was on a mission. Goldstein talked with friends, co-workers and community leaders to find out if there was a need for blankets. After a few calls he was put in touch with Sharon Parker from Berks Coalition to End Homelessness. After a few conversions with Parker, Goldstein knew he was onto something that could help a lot of people.
Over the next few weeks Parker was able to connect Goldstein with his first five shelters. Opportunity House, Hope Rescue Mission, Mary’s Shelter, YMCA of Reading & Berks County and Berks Counseling Center.
Over the first 2 years Goldstein was able to donate over 2,000 blankets to the five shelters thanks to the support of the community. However, he didn’t have any background in fundraising or nonprofit management. Goldstein used his business experience to continue sourcing blankets and collect donations.
“I’ve sent money into other organizations and I don’t know where it goes. I make everything as public as I can so people can see where their money is going.”
For Goldstein, it was important to keep the nonprofit running with zero administration costs. A decision he says many of his friends and colleagues question, but for him it’s the true meaning of giving. Goldstein does not take a salary for running the nonprofit. He even goes above and beyond by paying any extra fees out of his own pocket.
Over the past few years Goldstein has stream lined production, shipping and distribution of the blankets to accommodate the “zero admin costs” concept. Blankets are drop shipped from a warehouse directly to a shelter for only $5 each. “When someone donates $5, I want that money to directly to giving a blanket” Goldstein says.
Looking back Goldstein says one of this best moments was working with the Berks County Parrot Head Club in 2014. Fundraising for Veterans Making a Difference and Hope Rescue Mission Goldstein recommended supplying military grade wool blanket and foil sleeping bags.
A few weeks later while attending one of the Parrot Head meetings he was asked how quickly he could source the blankets once he was given a check. Giving himself some buffer time he said 1-2 weeks. To his surprise Goldstein was given a $3,300 check that night. Inspired to work harder to source the blankets, Goldstein was able to have the wool and foil blankets delivered within 48 hours to both organizations.
“To be able to show an organization we can take their money and make an immediate impact, that’s when I know I’ve my job right.”
Today, Goldstein travels the region meeting new people and organizations in need. Thanks to his supply chain, he can order blankets right from his smart phone to be delivered anywhere. This has allowed him to expand his line of blankets into different sizes, colors and styles to serve different needs.
During our conversion, Goldstein was also quick to point out that blankets are not just for the fall and winter seasons. He continues to receive requests throughout the summer months, more recently finding a need for blankets in nursing homes and hospitals. “These people are out of their house in a different environment. Having a new blanket to keep means a lot”
So far Blanket of Hope has donated over 17,280 50″ x 60″ fleece blankets to local organizations. Looking at the his next five years Goldstein wants to expand distribution across Pennsylvania by building his network of shelters, hospitals and children’s homes.
When he’s not ordering blankets Goldstein spends his time working on various Blankets of Hope fundraising events. In January, Goldstein hosts “Take the Chill Off”, selling premium chili made by chef Tim Twiford of Crowne Plaza Reading at 16 local businesses including Redners, Classic Harley-Davidson and Tompkins Vist Bank. To continue fundraising in the summer Goldstein is also organizing a Golf Classic presented by Customers Bank scheduled for July 21st.
Goldstein’s dedication to serving those in need shows us that we all have the power to make a meaningful impact in someone life. Goldstein is an extra ordinary person by choice. He took the initiative to turn a small gesture into something that impacts thousands.