Thursday, October 6, 2011



Mylar emergency blankets and candles – we need hundreds and hundreds of these two items during the winter months. Emergency blankets keep people alive, even when the temperatures go into the twenties. In fact, the homeless folks say that these blankets actually keep them warm on very cold nights and – good news! – they are extremely inexpensive – one or two dollars apiece depending on where you buy them. They can be purchased by the case online at many different sites – for a range of prices. If you shop around you will find a good deal. More good news – they’re light weight – minimal shipping charge. On very cold nights Pat and I drive around and pass them out, and we keep them in the van. When you donate mylars you are saving lives.

Candles are so, so important. A candle raises the temperature inside a tent by ten degrees. Equally important, candles keep people from sinking into depression. When it gets dark at five o’clock and you have no source of light – sitting out in the woods for endless hours of darkness – unable to read, unable to see what’s coming at you when you hear twigs breaking and leaves crunching - that is like being a prisoner of war.

In a way, our folks are refugees and prisoners of the war between corporate American and everybody else.

This winter I hope your generosity will allow us to pass out candles and mylar blankets by the dozens (mylars also make good makeshift tarps) so everyone has all they need of these two amenities.

One reminder: I no longer take in donations of blankets and winter clothing, because I don’t have the storage space. The Alachua County Housing Authority takes blankets and coats (large size coats are particularly needed). Once a week we take our van to the Hospice Attic Thrift Shop warehouse and load in blankets and sleeping bags and coats. The folks at Hospice Attic – who also donate to other small missions – are genuine angels, and there is one very special angel named Mary Lou who sorts out what we need from the vast middenheaps of donations they receive.

Every winter I hope that this is the last winter we will have hundreds of homeless people living outside. But the One-Stop Center is still a distant dream. One bright light in this darkness is Gail Monahan and her allies at the VA. I wish we could clone Gail, about 40 or 50 times. I think she’s gotten more people off the streets, permanently, than anyone else in Gainesville. She is the Albert Einstein of housing. Her goal is to get every single homeless veteran into housing and she is making great progress.

High protein foods also help homeless people survive the winter. Vienna sausages, or any little poptop cans of meat, will be needed more than ever in the months ahead.

Gary, who was treated for tongue cancer this fall and needed donations of protein shakes, asked me to thank everyone for helping him. We have been able to supply him with all the protein shakes he needed and he is making a good recovery. He can now eat applesauce and boiled eggs.

The Civic Media Center has given a temporary home to the St. Francis House Vet clinic. They also passed out bottled water to homeless folks all summer, and make their restroom available to homeless people.

Many thanks to all of you for being part of our Home Van family. The brothers and sisters in the woods appreciate you more than you will ever know.

love, arupa
The Home Van needs tents, tarps, bottled water, Vienna sausages, creamy peanut butter, jelly, candles, white tube socks, batteries, bug spray, duct tape, books and games. Call 352-372-4825 to arrange for drop off. Financial donations to the Home Van should be in the form of checks made out to Citizens for Social Justice, Inc., earmarked for the Home Van, and mailed to 307 SE 6th Street, Gainesville, FL 32601, or can be made online

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