January 11, 2018 06:49 PM
Thousands of Minnesotans are getting a free dinner and a gift to help them survive the cold weather.
Loaves and Fishes is a non-profit free meal program that has 28 dining sites across Minnesota.
On Thursday, the group assembled baskets of quilts, socks, blankets and other winter gear.
"We'll serve 2,000 meals tonight and hand out warm winter wear" said Cathy Maes, the executive director of Loaves and Fishes.
Maes said it's all being given away to dinner guests who need them.
"Many of our guests are in shelters," she said. "To have their own blanket, to have a brand new toothbrush, some deodorant and a mat to sleep on and roll up in is amazing.
"They're so grateful."
Loaves and Fishes got a lot of help from Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in Excelsior.
RPM/Drymate in Savage makes waterproof mats. They donated 200 waterproof blankets to help keep the homeless dry and warm.
"The company had extra material and they saw a Channel 5 piece about giving out coats" Maes said. "And they called us up and said 'We'd like to make mats for the homeless, would you like them?'
"We said 'Of course we would."
We think it is important to give back to our community, especially at this time of the year, with our coldest weather upon us," said Mike Bachman, president of RPM/Drymate.
"Our Drymate Waterproof Blankets, when wrapped around an individual, will help to retain body heat. It could literally be a lifesaver for those who can't or won't go to a shelter."
In addition to the blankets, guests are also getting toiletries and socks.
Maes said that the social organization, Hippy Feet, provided more than 1,000 pairs of socks to help keep their guests' feet warm and dry. Hippy Feet is dedicated to supporting the homeless population.
Socks are among the least donated, yet most needed, items at homeless shelters. For every pair of socks sold, another is donated to the homeless.
In 2013, Loaves and Fishes served 300,000 free meals. In 2017, 700,000 free meals were served.
Updated: January 11, 2018 06:49 PM
Created: January 11, 2018 04:02 PM
Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company