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Extreme Weather Task Force needs new blankets to distribute to elderly, disabled during winter weather

EL PASO, Texas - With colder winter temperatures on the way, the Extreme Weather Task Force is asking the public for donations of new blankets while they work to educate the El Paso community on cold weather safety. 

“The Task Force is actively working on providing blankets to the most vulnerable in our community who may not have adequate heating in their homes,” said Grace Ortiz, APS Faith-Based Community Engagement Specialist and EWTF Chair.  Ortiz appeared Wednesday on ABC-7 at Four.

“Our goal is not simply to collect and distribute free blankets, we want to check on people and educate the community on how to stay safe in cold weather.”

During the past 4 years, the Extreme Weather Task Force has collected and delivered almost 2,500 free blankets to the elderly and needy families in our community. 

“Currently, we have only 100 blankets in stock,” said Ortiz.  “"Our inventory is low. To fulfill the blanket requests, we are asking the community to donate new blankets particularly twin, full and queen size.”

To help save lives, the EWTF stresses use of the Buddy System.  This simply involves having a trusted relative, friend or neighbor contact an elderly or disabled person daily during a cold wave. A Buddy encourages an at-risk individual to stay warm by wearing layers of clothes, to eat well, drink plenty of fluids and heat their home safely.  If there are errands to be done, the Buddy does them, or makes sure they get done.

Those most at-risk for hypothermia include:  elderly people with inadequate food, clothing or heating; babies sleeping in cold bedrooms; children left unattended; adults under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs; mentally ill individuals; people who remain outdoors for long periods - the homeless, hikers, hunters, etc.

New blanket donations can be dropped off any time at any El Paso or Horizon City fire station.  Corporate and monetary donations are welcome payable to the APS Silver Star Board. The mailing address is: Attention - Grace Ortiz, Adult Protective Services, 401 E. Franklin, Suite 350, El Paso, TX, 79901.

Those in need of a blanket who meet EWTF criteria should call 2-1-1.

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Mark Ross

Mark Ross is an anchor/producer for ABC-7.

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