With a mound of blankets piled in her arms, Mount St. Joseph University alum Amanda Gratsch’15 walked the streets of Cincinnati November 7, passing out an offering of warmth to those on the streets.
Amanda and a group of friends began to notice the rise of homelessness in the Cincinnati area and decided that they wanted to make an impact, especially during the cold winter months where a blanket would go to great use for those less fortunate.
“We wanted to set aside the stigmas associated with homelessness and how they got to where they are, and look more toward making them feel supported during their time in need,” says Gratsch.
They began reaching out about their initiative in September through social media and by November they had exceeded their goal of 50 blankets, collecting a total of 56. “We were incredibly happy we received so much support from our fellow community members, friends, and family,” says Gratsch.
During her freshmen year at the Mount, Amanda was president of Active Minds, an organization that seeks to erase the stigma associated with mental disorders. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, between 20-25% of the homeless in the United States suffer from some form of mental illness, which inspired Amanda’s involvement to continue with causes relating to mental health.
Amanda shares on her experience handing out blankets across Cincinnati:
“Seeing the lit-up smiles and teary-eyes on people’s faces was one of the most heart-warming experiences I have ever witnessed, and it only makes me want to continue to give back to the community. One woman started tearing up and hugged each of us, while others gave us their blessing and thanked us tremendously. I've never experienced anything like it. Some were speechless for a few moments that we even wanted to donate to them.
I felt such a wholesome feeling and began to tear up myself from donating. I would encourage anyone to give to others if the opportunity comes along, because I believe it's the most rewarding experience anyone can ever undergo. It inspired me to continue to participate in future service acts, whether I take part in organizing or volunteer for another cause.
I think the most rewarding thing that I've learned throughout this process, is that no act of kindness, no matter how small, is overlooked.”
Photo: Amanda Gratsch'15 far right