DARKE COUNTY — A 17-year-old Greenville High School student and her 10-year-old sister have partnered with local businesses to provide socks and blankets for the homeless this winter, as well as for homeless pets living in the Darke County Animal Shelter.
Rachel Unger came up with the idea for Comforting Comforters while going for a drive with her parents.
“This all started because we were out driving, and we drove through an underpass going under I-75, and there were seven homeless people sitting there. I was super cold sitting in school later on, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it,” Unger said. “I asked my mom if there was anything we could do to help, and she said, ‘Maybe not those people specifically, but I’m sure there’s something we can do to help the homeless in our own community.”
Unger’s mother put out an open invitation on Facebook for local businesses to volunteer as drop-off points for socks and blankets, as well as for treats and blankets intended for animals at the animal shelter.
“Right now, I do the ‘helping homeless humans’ side of things, and my sister Bridget volunteers at the animal shelter,” Unger said. “Her goal is to make sure every animal at the shelter is adopted. They go and play with the animals, and they post pictures on Facebook. The ladies at the shelter are always very friendly. It’s an environment where everybody just wants to help, so it’s good.”
As of Tuesday, Unger and her family had collected 50 blankets and 133 pairs of socks, which they’ve taken to the Greenville branch of Community Action Partnership (CAP), which operates Darke County’s homeless shelter and provides other services for homeless individuals and families, to be distributed to those who need them.
“I’m very passionate about helping the homeless, but this has turned into something bigger than I ever thought,” Unger said. “My sister and I want to thank the community, and the businesses who wanted to help, because this wouldn’t have been possible without them.”
The girls’ mother, meanwhile, wanted to make sure her daughters knew how proud their parents are of their children’s desire to make a difference.
“Their dad and I are very proud of both of them for recognizing they can do small things to help others in big ways,” Diana Unger said. “It’s been important for us to teach them that we can all do something to help others, no matter how young or old you might be.”
Unger and her family will continue picking up blankets and other items at participating businesses until January 30. But she doesn’t intend for that to be end of her charitable endeavours.
“During the holidays, everybody feels like giving. Then after the holidays, the giving declines, even though the need is still there,” Unger said. “I want to keep finding new needs to cater to as time goes on.”
Those wishing to help may contact Caring Comforters through their Facebook page, or by dropping off blankets and socks at participating businesses.
The writer may be reached at 937-569-4315. To join the conversation and get updates on Facebook, search Advocate 360. For more features online, go to dailyadvocate.com