‘This is grassroots organizing’: Lawrence community members make, collect donations to help neighbors stay warm

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Huge bags of blankets, sweaters and other donations — including some items crafted during the makers session and supply drive Saturday at Art Love Collective — are on their way to help keep Lawrence community members warm. 

About a dozen people created blankets, hats and scarves while a steady stream of community members stopped by the collective’s downtown storefront with bags and boxes of warmth and hygiene items to contribute.

The items are to help people who are experiencing homelessness during extreme cold temperatures in the forecast for the next few days. 

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Sorted piles of donated items filled the space at Art Love Collective.

Haskell Indian Nations University loaned Art Love Collective four sewing machines and provided fabric for the event as well as some food to donate. Items are going to the Lawrence Community Shelter and the Amtrak train station in East Lawrence, where the city is running an overnight winter emergency shelter during the cold snap. 

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Community members sew and crochet blankets, hats and scarves in the back section of Art Love Collective.

Taylor Overton, new co-owner of the collective, said her goal is to create spaces in Lawrence that are similar to what she remembers from childhood, like Penny Annie’s Sweet Shoppe.

“We had all of these small businesses that contributed to community and wanted to see everyone succeed and thrive,” she said. “And that’s what we’re hoping to accomplish here at Art Love.”

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Caleb Stephens worked on a tie blanket during the event.

Caleb Stephens said community organizing events are important “because people that are marginalized and oppressed slip through liminal spaces and fall into a spot where they’re just left to fend for themselves.”

Stephens said that “historically in Lawrence, that means that the people we do see and do serve are usually white, cis/het individuals that are unhoused, and so we’re looking for Black, queer, trans and nonbinary youth and Indigenous students, undocumented folks.”

“This is grassroots organizing,” he said.

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times

By the end of the donation drive, the group had hundreds of sweatshirts, hats, toiletries, blankets, scarves, and some sleeping bags to donate to LCS and the popup shelter at the Santa Fe Depot. 

Lawrence City Commissioner Amber Sellers, who stopped by the event, said she wasn’t surprised by Saturday’s turnout “and the support that we’ve had for the community. When you put the call to action out, we respond.” 

“I couldn’t be more proud of what I see today,” she added.

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Amber Sellers glances down at a mirror on the sales counter at Art Love Collective.

Wind chills in the area are forecast to be between -29° and -40° Saturday night into Sunday, and to remain as low as -30° through Tuesday morning. Saturday night into Sunday morning could see a low temperature of -12°. The high temperature for Sunday is expected to be 0°, with a low of -6° Sunday night into Monday morning, according to the National Weather Service in Topeka. There is also a 20% chance of snow Sunday and Monday. 

Read more about how to help people experiencing homelessness during the extreme weather at this link. Read about the current available overnight sheltering options at this link.

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times
Molly Adams / Lawrence Times
Molly Adams / Lawrence Times
Molly Adams / Lawrence Times
Molly Adams / Lawrence Times
Molly Adams / Lawrence Times
Molly Adams / Lawrence Times
Molly Adams / Lawrence Times
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Molly Adams (she/her), photojournalist and news operations coordinator for The Lawrence Times, can be reached at molly (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Check out more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

Severe weather resources

National Weather Service local office (Topeka):
 Find the latest weather forecast info and severe weather advisories for the Lawrence area at this link.

In the event of rapidly changing severe weather, such as tornadoes, the NWS posts frequent updates on Twitter, @NWSTopeka. You do not need a Twitter account to see tweets from NWS.

NWS is also on Facebook, facebook.com/NWSTopeka.

 Call 785-234-2592 to hear the forecast.

Douglas County Emergency Management:
Follow @DgCoEM on Twitter or Douglas County, KS- Emergency Management on Facebook, facebook.com/dgcoem.

Sign up to receive emergency alerts at dgcoks.org/emalerts.

Find lots of tips on severe weather and other emergency preparedness on DgCoEM’s website at douglascountyks.org/emergency-management.

Report storm damage (for non-emergencies only, and after storm danger has passed) by calling the nonemergency dispatch line at 785-843-0250 or 785-832-7509.

Evergy outages:
Check the status of power outages on the Evergy outage map, outagemap.evergy.com.

Report a power outage at evergy.com/report-outage, or call 800-544-4857.

For down powerlines, call 911.

City of Lawrence snow info:
The city has snow information and a map at lawrenceks.org/snow that shows information about road conditions and snow plow locations. The city typically begins snow and ice control for residential roadways when 2 or more inches of snowfall or icing occurs.

Air quality:
Check the current air quality index in Lawrence and elsewhere through AirNow, airnow.gov.

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