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Jacksonville woman working to ensure homeless people stay warm

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A San Marco woman has started a mission to help people who are living on the streets and keep them warm.

On Friday, Donna Cooper gave out thermal blankets to people who are out in the cold.

She said she regularly sees people living on the streets in Jacksonville. Then she heard that the City of Jacksonville is working to get a number of homeless people downtown off the streets and into hotels for 30 days, and it will help them find a permanent home. In addition to housing, the program also pays for food, and even mental health help.

“I’m thinking a hundred people? There’s thousands, thousands of homeless people throughout our community, you know?” Cooper said.

She’s worried that it’s not enough. That’s why she was handing out 200 blankets to as many homeless people as she could find.

“I just looked online for these blankets, and they weren’t too expensive, and I thought let’s go,” Cooper said.

They aren’t your bedroom blankets. They’re made of foil in a compact pouch and they’re made for the outdoors.

Then, Cooper found her army.

“I put a thing in the neighborhood app asking for volunteers and here they are,” she said.

Cooper and her team of volunteers took to the streets, and they’re finding many people who have found themselves jobless and without a home due to the pandemic.

“I lived in Chicago, and I know how cold it gets,” said Liz Page, a volunteer. “It certainly has felt like Chicago the past few days, so I’m happy to help spread the blankets.”

About the Author:

At WJXT for a quarter of a century, Mary Baer anchors the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. news weekdays.