Blanket for a Blanket initiative follows one-for-one business model

Manhattan Crisis Center employees Jill Bergling, case manager, Dene Kaster, grants and finance officer, and Jenna Osterman, donation and volunteer coordinator, with blanket donations from With a Purpose in December 2014. (Photo Courtesy of the Manhattan Emergency Shelter, Inc.)

With a Purpose is a for-profit organization that strives to live up to its name and give back to the community, with a purpose.

This organization fulfills the wants of college sports fans with team-based, licensed blankets and simultaneously provides the homeless with warmth and comfort with donated blankets.

Nick Bundra, overseer of nonprofit partnerships for With a Purpose, focuses on working with local charities in the communities where each university is located. In addition to the university communities, With a Purpose also extends its donations to disaster relief and military veteran efforts.

“For every blanket we’ve sold, we donate one locally,” Bundra said.

With a Purpose has donated over 5,000 blankets program-wide. All of the blankets distributed by the program are one color, sit at 50 inches by 60 inches in size, and are made of 100 percent polyester. The website describes each blanket as providing “the recipient with warmth and dignity.”

Josh Helland, CEO of With a Purpose, said he was inspired by Toms Shoes and its one-for-one campaign. This prompted him to look for another market the one-for-one campaign could benefit.

A lightbulb turned on in Helland’s head at the beginning of summer 2012, after working with the homeless and those transitioning off the streets back into housing. Helland said he wanted to help provide products that would benefit people trying to break the cycle.

“I was introduced to the needs and what’s required for people transitioning,” Helland said.

It took over a year to launch the brand, which happened in late 2013. With a Purpose is currently expanding to college bookstores in the fall and other online retailers.

The purchase of a K-State Wildcats blankets benefits the Manhattan Emergency Shelter, Catholic Charities of Northern Kansas and City Union Mission located in Kansas City, Missouri.

The Manhattan Emergency Shelter serves men, women and families with children who are homeless. On average, it serves around 500 people a year. While these blankets have been beneficial for the shelters and charities receiving them, they are also in need in other donations of food and cleaning products.

To date, With A Purpose has donated about 200 blankets in the Manhattan area, 56 of which were delivered to the Manhattan Emergency Shelter this past December.

“During the winter months, they are great blankets to have and are big enough to give out because they’re not bulky; they are good adult-sized blankets,” Emily Wagner, executive director of the Manhattan Emergency Shelter, said. “We have given them all out.”

Editors note: This article has been updated to reflect updated information.