It was a gesture inspired by Hawaii’s cooler winter weather, and comes with a message of hope.
An Oahu couple with the first names of Rosanna and Peter — who otherwise wish to remain anonymous — wanted to keep Honolulu’s homeless warm and offered a donation to Waikiki Health to buy 250 fleece blankets.
Rosanna told Waikiki Health’s director of marketing and development, Mary Beth Lohman, “‘It’s cold out there, we need to get these people some blankets. They have to be really long. I want them to cover their toes.’”
And the couple wanted each blanket to come with an attached, cardboard message that reads, “Don’t give up, YOU MATTER. From Rosanna and Peter, with love.”
When officials at the Walmart on Fort Street Mall heard about the project, the store knocked off 10 percent of the price of its 60-by-90-inch fleece blankets, dropping the total cost down to $2,700.
Rosanna declined to be identified or interviewed but said in a statement through Waikiki Health:
“The purpose of the ‘Blanket Project’ is to acknowledge that the homeless people in our community are real human beings just like us, except perhaps less fortunate. They are no different than you and I, having physical and emotional needs. When each one of us extends a hand to a homeless person in a simple act of kindness — a smile, an encouraging word, helping hands or in a prayer — we are living the spirit of Aloha that makes Hawaii so unique.”
On Wednesday, outreach workers from Waikiki Health’s Care-A-Van program plan to distribute the blankets to homeless people throughout Waikiki and Kakaako and to its Youth Outreach drop-in homeless center for teens.
With Honolulu struggling with the highest per capita homeless population in the country, Lohman said the blankets will be eagerly appreciated.
“We can easily give out 500,” Lohman said. “It won’t take us but a second to distribute 250.”
And each person who gets a blanket will walk away with a message from two strangers named Rosanna and Peter that reads, “YOU MATTER.”