It took one Saturday morning of serving breakfast to the homeless, working poor and children to inspire a drive in Hilliard to collect blankets for the same group.

It took one Saturday morning of serving breakfast to the homeless, working poor and children to inspire a drive in Hilliard to collect blankets for the same group.

Nancy Whetstone, a Darby Creek Elementary School parent and volunteer, said she is involved with Brownie Troop 1858.

In mid-December, she said, she and the Brownie Troop got up early one Saturday to participate in a volunteer effort with the Hilliard United Methodist Church.

They were headed out to assist in the "Feeding Through Faith" program. The program seeks volunteers to help prepare and serve a hot breakfast to 200 to 300 homeless or working poor people every Saturday.

At the same time, they passed out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and pastries for folks to take home after the meal. Whetstone said her Brownies, all second-grade students, also distributed 53 hand-made fleece scarves.

The girls, according to Whetstone, made the scarves with the help of their parents.

"They went like hotcakes," she said.

It was the scarves that led to a discussion regarding blankets.

One member of the United Methodist Church-based volunteer program said the group doesn't have blankets to distribute to the needy people.

"This time of year, it is a big commodity for people who are living in the woods or their cars or can't afford heat," Whetstone said.

The thought continued to trouble her after the volunteer mission.

"When I saw those kids getting the breakfasts," Whetstone said, "it breaks your heart to know they are living in a car or with their grandmother in a one-room apartment that is poorly insulated."

As a member of Kiwanis, she also learned that in three are 2,000 children in Columbus City Schools who are considered homeless.

Whetstone decided to conduct a drive to collect blankets.

She contacted Principal Vicky Clark and asked if Darby Creek Elementary School would be interested in working on the "Covers for the Cold" blanket drive.

Clark was more than willing to get the school community involved in the project.

The Brownies made the posters and sent notes home to the parents. The drive came to a conclusion on Jan. 23 when Whetstone arrived at the school in the afternoon with a van to load up the blankets for delivery the following day at Parsons Avenue Free Store in Columbus.

"It is a faith-based program," said Whetstone. "They accept anyone. There is also a West Side Free Store."

She was hoping when she started the drive that they might collect 500 blankets. She said she was sure they had at least 100, and about half of the blankets were new.

Whetstone, who said that she is always involved in some type of charitable mission, said serving food to the homeless and working poor and then collecting blankets was a humbling experience.

She said everyone was nice to the children.

"It is a really nice way to give back to the community," she said. "It makes you realize that no matter how bad things are for you, there is always someone who has it worse. This is a generation of plenty and gratitude is in short supply."

She tries to remind her Brownie Troop and her own children that they need to help others through a multitude of experiences.

"Every two weeks we are doing something," she said.

People are not always willing to organize an event, Whetstone said, but it only takes one person to initiate it and then the others step up to help.

"I am a believer all it takes is one," she said.

Homelessness is out there and becoming more prevalent as people lose their jobs.

"Some people are only one paycheck away from being out on the streets," she said.

Whetstone said she tries to teach her children to be socially conscious and realized she had some success when she overheard a conversation between her son Jack and daughter Catherine.

"My 5-year-old said, 'I love money. I want to marry money,'" recalled Whetstone. "My 7-year-old daughter said, 'Jack, money doesn't bring you happiness.'"

Whetstone said she has preached the concept to her children, but until her daughter explained that having a home, a meal and clothing to wear she was not sure if the message had sunk in.

"It was a magical experience," she said of the conversation between her children. "The one thing we do every night is say our prayers, but I ask them to reflect on what they are thankful for."

Of late, she said, her daughter has been thankful to have a house, heat and food.

Working with the homeless and working poor and seeing their responses as well as the smiling faces of children is a gift to Whetstone and her Brownies.

"Wouldn't it be great if every kid had that gift?" she asked.

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