Founder of Sackcloth & Ashes, Bob Dalton was inspired to help the homeless population when his mother, a hardworking single mother, found herself living on the streets in 2013. “My beautiful mother became homeless. She has two college degrees, managed restaurants, raised my sister and me on her own, and worked so hard to move us from our apartment to a home. She is a woman that you would look at and never think she’d ever become homeless,” Bob said in an interview with Instagram. As Bob watched his mother struggle with depression and alcoholism following a chain of family tragedies, he first felt there was little he could do. That summer, Bob received a call from his mother – “Bobby, I’m doing it. I’m selling everything I have left and moving across the States to start my life over,” he said. From then on, she was homeless, sleeping on benches and beaches. “She had nothing left in her. Her fight was gone.”

Because of his mother’s story, Bob realized that not all choose to become homeless- that some just need a second chance.

He began to call homeless shelters in his area to ask what they needed, and they all said the same thing – blankets. Thus, he founded Sackcloth & Ashes – a maker of high-quality blankets. The company was born as a way to start conversations about homelessness and supply shelters with the resources they so desperately needed. For every blanket purchased, the company donates a warm fleece blanket to the buyer’s local homeless shelter.

“That way, as a people, we are making a direct impact in the life of a person that’s down the street from our home.”

© Nathaniel Knobel

© Nathaniel Knobel

Over the past few years, Sackcloth & Ashes has provided more than 4,500 blankets to homeless shelters and started a necessary conversation about the perception of homelessness. Here in the Mid-Ohio Valley, we have our own growing population of homeless people who could use our help, especially as the temperature drops and the ground freezes over. So what can we do?

There are so many ways to help out, as Cristie outlined in her article last month. We can give time, food, money, or items to those in need. Right now, warmth is a need keenly felt. Coats, gloves, scarves, hats, blankets and sleeping bags are all items that would be appreciated by someone living on the streets. Whether you knit your own items, buy them new, or donate them gently used, they could do a world of good for someone in need this winter.

For the month of January, we are challenging all of you to lend a hand in helping out our homeless community right here in the Mid-Ohio Valley. We purchased this blanket from Sackcloth & Ashes, which means that a blanket was donated to a local shelter. But let’s do more. If you donate time, food, money or items to someone in need this month, let us know – whether it’s on instagram, twitter, facebook, or in the comments below. Tag us, and you will be entered to win this super cozy, made-with-love blanket. If you aren’t sure what you can do, don’t be afraid to ask us! We are happy to give you suggestions and point you to local organizations who could use your help. Together, we can spread some extra love, warmth and cheer across the valley!

© Nathaniel Knobel