1. News

Blanket Tampa Bay strives to provide warmth to the homeless

Maddie Manthey, left, shows off a blanket she made to Blanket Tampa Bay founder Beth Ross. The nonprofit distributes blankets to the homeless on Christmas Eve.
Published Dec. 7, 2016

TAMPA — Blanket Tampa Bay started two years ago with a desire to help the homeless stay warm with a Christmas Eve gift.

Founder Beth Ross gladly gave blankets to 300 people that first year. Now, the nonprofit already has given out 5,000 of them in 2016, and hopes to have another 1,000 ready for Christmas Eve distribution.

"This has just grown. God has truly blessed us," said Ross, who has distributed them on Christmas Eve the last two years at Trinity Cafe, 2801 N Nebraska Ave., which serves meals to the homeless and food insecure.

Now Trinity Cafe has a second location in the First Church of God, 2202 E Busch Blvd., where she said the nonprofit also will distribute this year.

Blanket Tampa Bay began when Ross received an unexpected $100 in late 2014 and wanted to use the money to help others.

She already volunteered at Trinity Cafe and witnessed the need. With her husband, Ray, they started a Facebook page, Blanket Tampa Bay, and the word started spreading.

Last year, they set a goal of getting 350 blankets and ended up with more than 800, which they distributed at Trinity Cafe and took to a homeless shelter nearby.

"Our guests are always grateful for the warm blankets Beth distributes during the holidays," Trinity Cafe program manager Cindy Davis said. "For many of them it's the only 'gift' they receive for Christmas."

In January, Ross expanded the program to include weekly distributions Mondays from 7 to 8 p.m. at St. Peter Claver Church, 1203 N Nebraska Ave., in conjunction with meals provided by another organization. She also includes hygiene products that are purchased with donations.

"During the summer, people donated raingear and umbrellas to distribute too," she said.

Some churches or organizations have blanket drives to help her.

Taylor Vincent of Everyday Moms has her group, as well as a Girl Scout troop, collect the blankets.

"I found it (Blanket Tampa Bay) online, talked to her and loved what she did - and loved her," said Vincent, who added that Everyday Moms will have a blanket drive as part of a carnival at the YMCA in Riverview. "Any time we can have a blanket drive, we do."

Vincent also helped last Christmas with the distribution at Trinity Cafe, where hygiene products also were given out.

"It definitely was an experience and makes you have an appreciation of what you have," Vincent said. "You see how a much a bar of soap, some shampoo, a blanket means to them."

Ross said the campaign, mainly on social media and through word of mouth, has attracted teens who have made or collected blankets.

"I feel that I am influencing young people, too," she added.

With the growth of the project, Blanket Tampa Bay was able to achieve a non-profit, 501 (c3) organization status in March of this year.

Contact Lenora Lake at


  1. President Donald Trump speaks during an event with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at Pratt Industries, Sunday, Sept 22, 2019, in Wapakoneta, Ohio. EVAN VUCCI  |  AP
    Trump will try to convince skeptical global capitals to help build a coalition to confront Tehran after the United States blamed it for last week’s strike at an oil field in Saudi Arabia.
  2. Florida's VAM formula confuses many teachers, who call it an unfair and invalid measure of their performance. Florida Department of Education
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  3. The Spooky Train returns to the Concourse on Alric Pottberg Road in Shady Hills, as part of the Spook-A-Thon event offered Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 26, plus Oct. 27. MONICA MILLS  |  Monica Mills
  4. Traffic improvements near the Walmart store in Hudson include replacing this one-lane exit on the store's south side with a roundabout so motorists can travel in either direction on Beacon Woods Drive. JOSH SOLOMON  |  Tampa Bay Times
    A roundabout, rebuilt street, new driveways and a traffic light are planned for the area around a busy Walmart store.
  5. Brooksville City Hall
    Spending plan includes a new fire fee calculation, new positions and a plan to improve city infrastructure.
  6. The exterior of the new Nova Southeast University Tampa Bay Regional Campus, Clearwater can be seen on Friday. September 20, 2019.  SCOTT KEELER  |   Times
    Nova Southeastern University’s new campus off the Courtney Campbell Causeway was funded by Drs. Kiran and Pallavi Patel.
  7. Michelle Brandon, center, was one of four teachers at Pasco County's Hudson Elementary to be removed after two weeks of classes because of her state "VAM score." Here she is seen, before her transfer, on the first day of school this year, reviewing classroom rules with students. Later, when they broke the news to students, “there were a lot of tears,” Brandon recalled. "It was very difficult.” JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times
    It’s a number that is mostly based on test scores. The state says it helps put the best teachers in struggling schools, but many say it’s not valid.
  8. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla.
    Scott renews his talking point in the wake of an investigative story.
  9. 4 hours ago• Pasco
    Pasco Kids First president and CEO Robert Wolf. Becky Bennett/Pasco Kids First
    News and notes from Pasco County
  10. Stay with for the latest news and updates. Times
    Seth Monroe Majors, 31, died at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point.