Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Day 72° Partly Cloudy
News >  Idaho

Post Falls High students’ blanket drive exceeds expectations

Post Falls High School junior Taylor Demute shares a laugh Thursday as she carries donated blankets at the school. Members of the PFHS Link Crew organized a blanket drive and fundraiser to benefit St. Vincent de Paul in Coeur d’Alene and the Kootenai County Humane Society. (Kathy Plonka)
Post Falls High School junior Taylor Demute shares a laugh Thursday as she carries donated blankets at the school. Members of the PFHS Link Crew organized a blanket drive and fundraiser to benefit St. Vincent de Paul in Coeur d’Alene and the Kootenai County Humane Society. (Kathy Plonka)

Quilts, comforters and cozy blankets dominated a Post Falls classroom’s countertops, corners and spare    cubbyholes in an overwhelming response to a student-led blanket drive for a local homeless shelter.

A group of Post Falls High School teens chose a blanket drive as their annual service project to show thanks for having warmth and comfort in their lives.

“A lot of people don’t have that when they are homeless,” said Zachary Smith, 16.

The high school students, and teacher Samantha Starr, expected about 200 blankets. They were at 450 and counting Thursday. The group also had raised more than $1,000. Donations are going to St. Vincent de Paul in Coeur d’Alene, which offers warming shelters for all homeless as well as emergency shelters for single men and women with children. Some blankets deemed better for pets will go to the Kootenai County Humane Society.

“We’ve been flooded with blankets. I’m completely overwhelmed,” Starr said. “I can’t believe what we did. We did this in a week.”

The effort comes just as a national report released this week reveals that one in 30 school-age children, or 2.5 million, were homeless in 2013. That’s a historic high for the United States, according to the National Center on Family Homelessness at American Institutes for Research. Between 2012 and 2013, the number of homeless students increased 8 percent nationally.

Before the recession, about 1.5 million children, or 1 in 50, were identified as not having a permanent place to call home, the report said.

Idaho is ranked 27th in the nation for number of homeless children with 12,384, while Washington is 40th with 61,216 homeless children.

“We thought about doing a Thanksgiving dinner for a homeless student in the spirit of the holiday,” Smith said.

Post Falls students sorting and folding blankets Thursday expressed shock about the increased homeless numbers.

“I had no idea,” said Dakotah Davis, 17. The high school senior was glad his student group, the Link Crew, had done a project that will help. “It’s a very good idea because we are helping people who really need it.”

He added, “If we all chip in a little bit, we can help get them what they need.”

The Link Crew is a national program focused on helping transition freshmen into high school and making them feel comfortable. Students serve as mentors to freshmen throughout the year. There are 78 Post Falls High School students involved in the group.

Outside their main effort, the students also pick an annual service project themed on what they are most thankful for. Teens did a book drive last year for elementary school-age children, worked in a soup kitchen and helped bag grocery items at a food bank.

As students pondered what to do this fall, they considered several items related to the homeless.

“I liked doing the blanket drive because I get to give back to my community and help those who society looks down on,” said Taylor Demute, 16. “People see them standing with signs and say why don’t they just go get a job.

“They don’t realize it’s not that easy.”

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.