Written by: Issac Garonzik and Grace Miller
Hello, 4Front community! We are Grace Miller and Isaac Garonzik, the co-founders of Keeping Baltimore Warm. Our organization brings comfort and warmth to those currently experiencing homelessness by providing new and gently used blankets to people in shelters and spreading awareness about homelessness through open dialogue and discourse.
Who are you?
My name is Grace Miller and I am a sophomore at McDonogh School. I love traveling, spending time with family and friends, and playing tennis. I additionally enjoy taking every service opportunity I can. It is a great feeling to help others in need!
My name is Isaac Garonzik and I am a sophomore at Pikesville High who is passionate about helping the homeless community of Baltimore. In my free time, I enjoy reading, playing sports, and connecting with friends. We both have the common goal of helping our community!
Where did this idea come from?
Our idea was created in the 4Front environment. We participated in the 12-week Social Innovation Fellowship (SIF), which influences teens to think of a problem in their community and create a product or service that will work to solve that problem. We originally wanted to solve the problem of homelessness in Baltimore but realized our efforts would be much more realistic if we attempted to provide resources to the homeless community of Baltimore. We completed the Social Innovation Fellowship wanting to continue our project. We felt Keeping Baltimore Warm could be a huge help to our community.
Tell us about Keeping Baltimore Warm!
Our organization collects new and gently used twin-size blankets through in-person drives and online donations. With the help of volunteers, we hand-tag each blanket with an uplifting message prior to delivering it to one of many shelters throughout Baltimore. Our hope is to bring together members of our community to spread some hope and comfort to people currently experiencing homelessness.
Our Jewish values have helped us to learn about the importance of taking care of all members of our community. During 4Front’s 12-week SIF program, we were tasked with choosing a Jewish value to connect to our service project. We felt Keeping Baltimore Warm connected most with the value Ahavat Ger “love the stranger in your midst.” All people are important and precious and no one person is more deserving of care than anyone else. We take this value to heart when helping those currently experiencing homelessness because we believe that everyone deserves to have a warm blanket.
The Social Innovation Fellowship helped us create the foundation of Keeping Baltimore Warm. By understanding the business aspects that go into an organization, we benefitted greatly from SIF. We recommend SIF, as well as the many other 4Front teen programs, to anyone wanting to make a difference and just doesn’t know where to start.
How can other teens get involved?
So far we have donated 65 blankets to homeless shelters in Baltimore, and we have many more blankets on the way, but we still need your help!
How can YOU help out? You can donate a blanket through our Amazon Wishlist linked here and in our Instagram bio (@keepingbaltimorewarm). You can also donate blankets at one of our blanket drives (more information will be up on our Instagram soon!). We recently completed a drive at Pikesville High School and at Cross Keys Village. We plan on having a blanket drive at McDonogh School soon (date TBD). We have already coordinated to deliver this month’s blankets to Project Plase, a Walk-in center for any citizens currently experiencing homelessness in Baltimore.
Thank you so much for helping us make a meaningful impact to help others in our community!!