City officials said today that they have approved nearly $100,000 plus $7.95 processing and handling fees for the purchase of blankets with sleeves for Richmond’s homeless population, allowing displaced residents the ability to both keep warm and continue to have their arms free to beg for change.
The blankets, which look much like a reverse bathrobe and are marketed as the Snuggie, are being given out starting today at the city’s four homeless shelters.
Those who desire the body-length synthetic fleece blacket will be given the option of burgundy, royal blue, or sage green-colored Snuggies.
“One of the biggest complaints we hear from our homeless is that, while typical blankets are warm and useful, their hands are trapped inside when trying to beg to complete strangers for food money,” said Marge Cleason, executive director of the soup kitchen on Cary Street. “Thankfully, with the innovation of this remarkable blanket and its recent buy one-get-one-free offer, we have a fairly inexpensive solution to this far-reaching problem in Richmond.”
And, she said, the first 1,000 local homeless residents to request Snuggies will be given a free booklight. Snuggies are available in sizes for homeless men, women and children, Cleason said, and can be worn both indoors and out.
Snuggies also make the homeless look like they belong to a cult, a gospel choir, or are a character from a Lord of the Rings film, she noted.
Sitting at the corner of Sixth and Main streets, homeless man Josh “Pencil” Marshall said he was pleased with his recently donated Snuggie. He opted for royal blue, but did not show up in time to receive the free booklight. With his newfound arm-movement freedoms, the 56-year-old was able to easily hold a self-made cardboard sign that requests money for booze.
“The circles are much brighter now,” he said, noting he needed money to catch the tractor to Hanover County for Twinkies. “Ding dong, there’s the chair bell.”