The man walked about eight miles to the doors of Lazarus Restoration Ministries Inc. with hopes of getting a new blanket to help him through the winter.
The local ministry has been short on winter supply this year, and the colder it gets, the more people are coming, said Wanda Nelson, who is in charge of collecting coats.
“We gave him food and a bathrobe,” she said. “But he got here, and there just weren’t any blankets left.”
Every Monday through the end of December, Nelson said, the ministry will be collecting clean winter wear and blankets from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 3019 NE 20th Way.
During that time, those looking for food or clothing are invited to peek through the pantries and closets at the ministry to take what they need, Nelson said.
She said the agency needs more large coats and jackets. Blankets usually go within the first hour.
“We come and do our work,” she said. “But we can’t do much if there’s nothing to give.”
The ministry has helped about 100 people in the last three weeks.
She said there might be a higher demand now than in past years because there are fewer agencies able to run winter drives this year.
Nelson’s niece, Natasha James, accompanied her to volunteer at the drive for the first time Monday, and she’ll be back to help downtown today.
Lazarus Restoration Ministries is one of many agencies that will be on Bo Diddley Community Plaza from 9 a.m. to noon to help feed and clothe the homeless, and it will bring the coat drive downtown for the day.
“I can understand what they’re going through, you know. Been there, done that,” James said. “I really liked helping out.”
Lazarus Restoration Ministries is one of 26 agencies in the Alachua County Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry, according to the coalition’s website.
According to the Alachua County Homeless Census conducted on Jan. 24, the county’s homeless count rose from 1,781 to 2,094 last year.
Nelson said she thinks the count appears to be growing again this year.
“It brings me shame to know that so many people are in need,” Nelson said. “But that’s just real life.”
A version of this story ran on page 1 on 11/14/2013 under the headline "Organizations collect winter wear for homeless"