By Dave Ongie
On a frigid Thursday morning, a blast of warmth arrived in the form of a donation.
Nine Johnson City hotels banded together last month to gather over 160 blankets to be donated to the Salvation Army. The 12-day Hotels with a Heart drive saw hotels partner with other businesses in the community to provide blankets for a segment of the population currently battling through exceptionally cold nights.
During a press conference held at the Comfort Suites, Brenda Whitson – the Executive Director of the Johnson City Convention & Visitors Bureau – thanked the Carnegie Hotel, Doubletree by Hilton, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Fairfield Inn and Suites, Courtyard by Marriott, Comfort Suites, Best Western and Baymont Inn and Suites for participating in the drive.
“Our community has always been known for having a great spirit for giving back and providing hope to so many people who may need it so desperately,” Whitson said.
Whitson said the idea for the drive was formulated after the Salvation Army identified blankets as its greatest need during the winter months. For Ann Hendrick, general manager of the Comfort Suites on Browns Mill Road, seeing the donated blankets stacked in the lobby of her hotel was a good feeling.
“We decided we wanted to give back to our community,” Hendrick said. “We see a need for warmth, especially on a cold day like this. It’s nice to give some warmth to people who are less fortunate.”
Captain Michael Cox, commander of the Johnson City Salvation Army, was able to articulate how valuable the blankets will be as the organization continues to assist folks throughout the winter.
“There is a great need for this, especially this time of year when you see the cold snap is colder than it’s been in a long time,” Cox said. “We’re super-excited to see the hotels have networked together to help make this possible. It’s always nice to know that there are extra blankets to be able to give out freely. We can encourage them to take one with them.”