Local residents join effort to Keep Yinz Warm
January 17, 2014 11:00 AM
by JULIE MARTIN

An effort to help Pittsburgh’s homeless is getting a boost from Indiana County.

Jenn Dunsmore, 37, of White Township, is helping to coordinate a collection for Keep Yinz Warm, which helps the homeless by collecting and distributing blankets and warm clothing.

The program is headed up by Jon Jackson, a 16-year-old Mars Area High School student. He started the effort four years ago after seeing homeless people sleeping under bridges in Pittsburgh. Jackson wanted to do something, he said, to show them that someone cares about their well-being.

“I wanted to get involved because of Jon and his story,” Dunsmore said. “I think we need more young people like Jon who think of others in need and then actually make an effort to do something to help.”

Dunsmore, a promotional consultant at Red Oak Advertising, said she also got involved to show her daughter, Cora, 7, and stepdaughters, Jenna, 15, and Peyton, 21, the importance of generosity.

The response so far has been good. The Indiana Rotary is getting in on the act, according to Dunsmore, as are some of Red Oak’s business contacts. One is donating blankets and, another, hats. And the Indiana Area Senior High School Student Government Association has worked to get classmates involved, too.

Jackson, who plans to pick up the blankets in the next week or so, said he’s glad Dunsmore is helping out.

“I can’t wait to meet her and thank her in person,” he said.

Individuals can drop off donations at Red Oak Advertising, 531 Philadelphia St. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday.

Among the items accepted in new or used condition are blankets, pocket warmers, tarps and garbage or grocery bags. Keep Yinz Warm accepts new and used clothing, including gloves, scarves, coats, flannels and long underwear. Socks and hats are also needed, but only in new condition.

The organization asks that all used donations first be washed.

Electric blankets, mattress pads, sheets, curtains, pillows and blankets with pet stains are not accepted.

Anyone with questions about the Indiana effort can contact Dunsmore at (724) 349-5377 or by email at jenn@redoak.net.

More information about the effort is available at www.facebook.com/KeepYinzWarm.

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