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Pitman students celebrate kindness with blanket drive
Pitman blanket drive 1
Pitman High School Associated Student Body Juniors planned and promoted a drive that collected 68 blankets for the homeless community (ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal).

A group of Pitman High School students celebrated World Kindness Day on Friday by spreading goodwill — and warmth — to the homeless community. 

The PHS Associated Student Body Juniors were able to collect 68 blankets to donate to the Turlock Salvation Army, which will distribute them to those in need during their weekly breakfast on Sunday. According to Pitman student Kiran Soomal, who serves on the junior cabinet, the group came up with the idea during their meeting on Nov. 4 and were able to promote the blanket drive on social media.

In just over a week, the group had nearly 70 brand-new blankets on their hands. Soomal said this seemed like a fool-proof way to give back from a distance during the pandemic and adhere to state guidelines for school groups. 

“We wanted to give something back because it’s hard for everyone, not only for us not being able to go to school, but it’s starting to get cold now so we wanted to do this for the community,” she said.

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Pitman High student Kiran Soomal places blankets in a barrel at the Turlock Salvation Army (ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal).

ASB Juniors Advisor Tanya White said the group of students planned, promoted and executed the blanket drive all on their own — building essential leadership and community skills for not only now, but later in life. According to Salvation Army social services director Lissette Maunakea, it typically takes most groups longer than just a week to collect so many blankets. 

“They put in a lot of hard work and effort to make a difference to the homeless community and for people who don’t have blankets,” Maunakea said. “We’re going to be able to help anybody who needs a blanket to keep them warm. A majority of them will go to the homeless because it’s so cold out right now.”

In addition to homeless community members, the blankets will also likely go to families who may need them at home but are unable to afford their own, Maunakea added. 

While some of Turlock’s residents who are most in need will benefit from the students’ blanket drive, Soomal said it taught the group a valuable lesson.

“I think it shows that when we need everyone, we’re able to come together. We can fall on our community when we need to,” Soomal said. “We know we can trust them.”

The blanket drive also served as a way for students to feel connected even though they’re studying at home. Soomal encouraged others who are feeling lonely, sad or even bored during the pandemic to organize an act of kindness.

“If you’re able to reach out to people, just try,” she said.