UTICA, N.Y. - More than 600 blankets are on their way to children in need, thanks to the efforts of the Utica community.
The second annual Blanket Drive For Utica City School District Children took over the first floor of the Radisson Hotel-Utica Centre Tuesday night.
If participants donated two, new blankets to the drive, they were invited in for a buffet provided by the Radisson. All proceeds from raffle tickets sold at the event will go towards the purchase of new blankets for UCSD children as well.
The organizer of the event, Dr. Patricia Laino, is the executive director of the Business Training Institute. However, it was her time as head of UCSD's after-school programs that inspired her to start the blanket drive.
"I said 'What do you want for Christmas?' and he said 'I want a blanket,'" Laino said, speaking of one after-school student. "And I said "You want a blanket for Christmas?' and he said "Yes, because I'm getting too big and my coat doesn't cover me.'"
Representatives from the Radisson are continuing to accept blankets throughout the holiday season.
"Radisson has been around for a long time and they are all about community-based and giving back to the community," Bradford Roberts, the Radisson's food and beverage manager said. "And this is what it's exactly for."
While the blanket drive benefits children in the UCSD, it also provided the chance for older students to give back to their younger classmates.
"We all come to support people who need blankets and I see it as a very good thing," Joshua Pierce, a Proctor High School sophomore said.
"My mom she came from nothing really," Jayda Polise, a chief petty officer in Proctor's NJROTC said. "If we weren't here helping out, some people wouldn't get that motivation that would help them in their near future. It may seem small, but it could have a big impact."