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Tuesday, October 05, 2004

International Blanket Day

(MAD Club Project I)

Winter is nigh. Yayyy !!!

Winter has always been my favourite season. It conjures up in my mind images of a refreshing nip in the air, cosy pullovers and cardigans, comical monkey caps and riotously colourful scarves, thick snuggly cotton-stuffed blankets. It's a time to enjoy soup and hot chocolate like never before. It's a time when thick fur-encased pomerians look at me pityingly, when I feel envious whenever I stroke the plush coats of pet cats. It's the season of Santa Claus and Lights, of New Year's resolutions and loved ones' birthdays. It's the season of oranges and lemons sold for a penny. It's the season when bathing in the warm mellow noon sunshine feels even better than a hot water shower. I shiver on recalling my experiences with sub-zero desert frostbites, yet feel all warm and fuzzy inside when I cuddle up in my bed and look out of the window at the clearer-than-ever-before starlit skies.

But alas, winter does not hold the same fascination for hundreds of thousands of hapless people. For them, winter means helpless shivering leading to sleepless nights huddled against the nearest stone wall for a shade of protection from the biting wind; inevitable coughs and sneezes and runny noses; the looming threat of fevers which refuse to die down. Little hope of even a cup of warm tea to thaw their limbs and hearts. A cold which penetrates the bones of the aged and the hearts of the young.

In one way or another, each season is an enemy of the poor and homeless and destitute. Winter is an adversary which is often fatal.

Every year, countless Indians die an entirely preventable death due to bitter winter cold.

Can we do something to help?

It was the winter of 2001 when a modest idea was born. Such ideas sometimes happen to the young, foolish, idealistic starry-eyed who still commit the mistake of nurturing hope for the future and reposing an unwavering faith in the human race.

The idea was to designate 9th December, which marks the onset of stiff winter in most parts of India, as "International Blanket Day".

What is the idea behind International Blanket Day?

We all need warmth in our life. And what better way of achieving this is there than sharing warmth with others? Can we ensure that, because of us, at least one poor person will sleep in warmth and comfort this winter? The warmth will assuredly remain with us forever.

What is International Blanket Day?

On or before this day, as many people as possible would be requested to help those less fortunate than them.

Please make a donation to any needy person of your choice anywhere in the world this winter, on or before International Blanket Day, and feel the warmth that comes your way.

We personally guarantee that a flush of health and happiness will bloom on your cheeks, your digestion will improve beyond recognition, your behaviour will become more effervescent and bubbly and chirpy, your sleep will become more sound, and your dreams will become truly delightful.

How would it work?

The process is as follows:

  1. Each person (henceforth referred to as "contributor") would be asked to look around and identify at least one poor and needy person (henceforth referred to as "beneficiary") of his or her acquaintance.
  2. The contributor would then buy a blanket and give it to the beneficiary.
  3. If the contributor cannot afford a new blanket, he or she is welcome to donate an old blanket to the beneficiary.
  4. If the contributor resides in a warm area which is not affected by severe winter, or if the beneficiary already has a blanket, the contributor will ask the beneficiary about the latter's needs. These could be any of the following:
    a. Warm clothes (sweaters, cardigans, scarves, socks, shawls ... )
    b. Any other clothes (shirts, trousers, kurtas, lungis ... )
    c. Footwear (slippers, shoes ... )
    d. Medicines or medical treatment
    e. School or tuition fees, study books or materials (note pads, pens, pencils, erasers, sharpeners, rulers, geometry boxes, pencil boxes, school bags ... )
    f. Food
    g. Money (although this is not very recommended as it is not a sustainable contribution and has the potential to be be misused, still it could definitely be given. It is always better that it is given in the form of items 'a' to 'f' mentioned above. It is also an excellent idea to give this money to an orphanage, old age home, a school for the poor, a hospital for the poor, or any NGO which you know is doing good work)
    h. Anything else which the contributor knows will be useful and important to the beneficiary
  5. Once the contributor knows of the beneficiary's actual needs, he or she will try and provide the beneficiary with the same. The contribution can be new or even second hand. Either way it will Make A Difference.
  6. If nothing else, the contributor can donate a warm loving smile to the beneficiary.

At the end of the day, there should be just that extra bit of warmth and happiness in this increasingly cold and frosty world of ours.

How is this movement different from other donation drives?

Blanket donation drives have been organized before, but this is "a drive with a difference" in two ways:

  1. The drive is self-initiated: Here, the onus on identifying the beneficiary, deciding on what to contribute, as well as making the contribution, rests entirely on YOU.
  2. The drive is self-propagating: It is up to YOU to spread awareness of the movement among your friends, family members, colleagues and acquaintances. You could use e-mail, snailmail or any other form of communication for this purpose.

How can you help?

Chronologically, this is the fourth anniversary of the movement. In many ways, however, it is the inaugural year. This is after all the first time an attempt is being made to institutionalize International Blanket Day and make it a little bigger than just an annual college event.

The dream is very lofty. The resources are very scarce.

You can help immeasurably simply by participating.

You can help even more if your answer to any of the following questions is a "Yes":

  1. Do you have family, friends and acquaintances with who you can share this message? Do you know people who are willing and able to create a warmer and happier world?
  2. Can you get together with your friends on any Sunday or half holiday, and organize a little collection and distribution drive on your own? It will not take more than a few hours, and believe me, the kick you will experience is not worth missing.
  3. Is your academic institute or workplace willing to adopt ideas such as these?
  4. Are you good at IT aspects like database management or website design?
  5. Do you have ideas or recommendations or contacts for spreading news of this request to the maximum number of people? Any and all suggestions are most welcome.
  6. And finally, is anyone interested in volunteering to join Team International Blanket Day (TIBD)? TIBD is today a single member team and cordially solicits participation. If anyone volunteers, maybe we can start a concept of TIBD Coordinator for your school / college / organization / locality / city / country.

If you have answered a "Yes" to any of the above, and if you are willing to participate, please email blanketday@yahoo.com. Please mention your name and city / country of residence. All your inputs, feedback, suggestions, ideas, queries, clarifications and offers to help will be keenly appreciated. We promise to revert ASAP.

We also request that each of you who makes a donation informs us of his / her contribution by sending an email to blanketday@yahoo.com. This will help us keep track of the spread and success of the movement.

So come. Join us in celebrating December 9th as International Blanket Day.

And let us Make A Difference. Together.

(PS. People who have already joined up for the MAD Club are requested to kindly send a separate email to blanketday@yahoo.com in case they want to participate - Thanks!)

(PPS. This idea has NO copyrights! You are MOST WELCOME to adopt the idea, improve it as you feel fit, and spread it as your own.)

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