As winter settles in, one anti-poverty group is handing out hundreds of blankets and sleeping bags to the less fortunate in Sudbury.

More than 1,500 blankets and other items of clothing have been collected and are being distributed by the Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty.

"It's so nice to see how much they truly appreciate how little they get," said Ryan Wickham, who is heading the effort.

"They deserve so much more and we hope to be able to give it to them on a consistent basis."

The blankets were collected from local businesses last month. Currently the blankets are now being stored at the John Howard Society, where piles of blankets — as well as hats, mitts, and coats — are piled from the floor to the ceiling.

'The need is great'

The executive director of the John Howard Society said the blankets will benefit all who need a little extra help — not just those living on the streets.

"There are many people who are just coming out of homelessness who have just found a place to live and don't have the monies to purchase blankets or bedding," John Rimore said. "The need is great." 

Rimore said the blankets are sometimes donated in their original packaging and used ones are inspected by a staff member for cleanliness.

"They're in very good shape," he added. "Some people have been donating brand new material … and they're extremely helpful for children who don't have any bedding."

The Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty will distribute blankets and sleeping bags every night for the next several days.

The effort is appreciated by people like Gils Gauthier, who stood with his two new sleeping bags in front of Sudbury's Samaritan Centre.  

"Most nights there's probably 20-30 men on the floor here with no blankets," he said.

"So this is nice for the guys, even the homeless guys grab a sleeping bag and it helps out."