KIERAN’S KOVERS: YEARS OF SUCCESS
Thank you to all who donated to help make this program such a success throughout the years.
The YMCA of Greater Nashua has partnered with Kieran’s Kovers for 9 years to help collect blankets and other warm apparel for the homeless. We first want to thank all who have given back to their community through the Kieran’s Kovers collection throughout the year.
As the 2020 campaign comes to a close, we conducted an interview with Marion Hummer, who along with her son, Kieran Hummer, has collected blankets for the homeless for 10 years. The Y has partnered with them for nine years. Kieran is a senior at Bishop Guertin High School. This partnership has resulted in 501 blankets donated from collection bins at the Nashua Branch; 539 blankets donated at the Merrimack branch and 18 blankets donated at the West Wood Park Branch. (Westwood Park only participated this year.) When the expanded collections included hats, mittens, gloves, and jackets, another 515 donated items made their way to needy people.
What prompted you to start Kieran’s Kovers?
We spend a good deal of time traveling (pre-Covid of course!), and after living in NYC, make regular trips there. One Thanksgiving when Kieran was in first grade it was particularly cold. As we love walking the city, he saw so many homeless in doorways and boxes. It bothered him more there because it was like “home” to him. He’d always asked to give money to those on our travels outside the US, but this trip made a different impression. He asked us if we could “get them all blankets so they weren’t cold.” Obviously we would love to help every person experiencing cold, etc., but explained the difficulty, logistics and overall cost of doing that ourselves. I had suggested that we talk to his Bicentennial school principal about maybe doing a drive there for new and gently used blankets. She was 100% on board and we did a drive there that very winter. It was a huge success and Kieran was SO excited. Prior to doing that I reached out to the Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter (NSKS) about the donations, and they were happy to receive blankets.
Why is this blanket drive important?
The drive is so important to Kieran because he knows he’s lucky. He doesn’t need to worry about being warm, or not having food, etc. He spent time for a few years taking some small fleece to NYC during our winter trips and handed them out to people on the street and in doorways. He took dog food in little bags to give to those with pets (another soft spot for him!), and we gave some out at a mission one winter evening in NYC, plus donated some leftovers to another NYC group before leaving one year as well. Blankets are simple, they don’t spoil, they can ALWAYS be used by people, and they are relatively inexpensive, so people often change to new blankets. Even the few blankets that are badly torn, or seriously stained are taken to the Humane Society in Nashua so nothing is wasted.
What’s been the impact on your family?
This annual drive has been part of our lives for so long that it wouldn’t be the holidays without it. Family members from across the country send checks to purchase blankets, and we store new items all year to provide to the NSKS for Christmas baskets. Kieran has been challenged the last few years to be at all the pickups due to his school work. He carries at 4.0 or better, plus plays school sports. He always says his studies come first. It’s even inspired us to be working towards building a school in Tamale, Ghana, as soon as the travel restriction is lifted. Kieran has always known that his grandparents were in the Peace Corps, and has been to some significantly poor areas around the world. We felt it’s important for kids to see how other people live, and to do something to try and improve that where it’s possible. The Ghana project will be another big project, and we’re ready to jump into that next year, and obviously hoping to raise a little funding to help provide desks and educational materials……to do more than build the structure!
How did the Y get involved and why did you reach out to us?
After the first year at Bicentennial I told Kieran we should consider expanding. I had been volunteering on the committee for the annual auction, so I inquired through that contact about this potential. The YMCA immediately said ‘yes,’ and has been one of our most significant and stable contributors since starting there nine years ago. Kieran and I have talked with people as we’re there bagging blankets, and I think him hearing people say that it’s a “good thing” goes miles in making him feel what he’s doing is worthwhile. He gets the most feedback during those short interactions. I think that’s a huge help in maintaining the project, but really hope he can get back involved more next year. Without the YMCA drives, we couldn’t feel able to provide the number of blankets needed each year on a regular basis, and certainly not the new items needed to support the holiday baskets!
What changed from year one?
The main changes from the first year or two of the drive was adding socks/hats/gloves as extra items, as well as adding the focus to contribute to the holiday basket drives. Of course, adding other schools has been a huge bonus. Kieran added PMA during his years there, and they continue to be the other main contributor for numbers along with the YMCA locations. My husband would like to see us get a non-profit status established and find a way to provide even more blankets and items for baskets. I’ll have to see how this plays out, but we think it would be another good project for Kieran to get underway before college!
What are the future plans for Kieran’s Kovers?
When Kieran goes to college, I’ll maintain the project here in NH, and we’ll see if he’s interested in doing the project somewhere near Penn State….assuming his plan since second grade stands. He’s pretty focused and stubborn, so we’ll see where he ends up. His plan right now is to going into Architecture. In addition to focusing on school work, Kieran loves to draw and is a good artist. When traveling he always picks something from the trip to put on paper. It’s always one of the great parts of every trip! We will see how things go the next few years, but at minimum I see the project continuing indefinitely in the Nashua area.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Our thanks to the YMCA staff and members is more than a card or simple words can express. Knowing we have this relationship to help contribute so much to our community is priceless. It’s always exciting each fall to hear back that the YMCA is on board for another year! And, I don’t see ever downgrading from the Suburban EVER or it would take FAR too many trips from the YMCA pick-ups! It’s so much fun to see the bags literally from front to back and floor to ceiling each year.
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