Believe it or not, the official start to winter is still about a month away, but already the Salvation Army in La Crosse is at capacity with 84 people staying in its shelter.
About a dozen of them are children.
But one special organization is doing its part to help those children feel a little more at home this winter.
We first introduced to our community's very own "Blanket Lady" Linda De long last month when she was collecting handmade blankets from her volunteers or "blanketeers" in preparation for her next delivery.
Saturday was the big day.
“This is the day that it’s all about,” said De Long. “This is what I do.”
With her trusty sidekick by her side, De Long is ready to bring some comfort to children in need.
“I truck them around for her, said Jim De Long, her husband. “I'm glad to see that people are getting the blankets, especially this time of year when it’s colder.”
For the past four years this husband and wife duo have helped spread warmth throughout the community with donated blankets made by Project Linus volunteers also known as ”blanketeers.”
They make monthly deliveries to a handful of organizations in the area. This delivery is going to the Salvation Army, an organization gearing up for another busy winter.
“They field such a great need for us and for those who are homeless,” said Diane Dewalt, the Salvation Army chaplain.
The blankets will fill the last empty shelf in this closet to take care of all the children who will stay at the shelter this winter.
While the average is 65 people a day, it's already filled and winter hasn't even officially started yet.
“As it gets colder, we will see more families coming in,” said Dewalt. “There are a lot of expected babies in the next few months so I'm glad we've got lots of baby blankets.”
And while the Blanket Lady won't get to see or present the blankets to the kids herself, just knowing the simple pieces of cloth stitched together provides them with hope is more than enough to keep her cause going.
“I think that the need has always been there,” said Linda De Long. “I have no intentions of stopping as long as my sidekick here will help me deliver them. I don't see any reason why we should stop.”
When the Salvation Army's shelter is full, the organization refers those in need of shelter to the Warming Center on Main Street.
That facility has also had to turn away people some night's this season because of reaching its capacity
If you would like more information on Project Linus and how to help a child in need, contact Linda De Long at email@example.com.