Blankets Tampa Bay gives warmth, dignity to homeless in Tampa

Sometimes small gestures can lead to big ideas. Just ask Beth and Ray Ross, who took $100 and started a grass-roots effort to help the homeless.

"I think it's a great thing we do," said Ray. 

Every Monday they give away free blankets and other essentials to the homeless at St. Peter Claver Catholic Church in Tampa. 

"I've been recuperating from surgery the last five weeks," said Beth. "So, to be back out this week is amazing. And I feel very blessed." 

They called their effort Blankets Tampa Bay.

"We started with $100. The church that my husband and I were going to at the time gave every family$100 and said, ‘Go do something good with it,’" added Beth. "And I told my husband I wanted to buy blankets because I hate being cold. And so that's what we did. We started off and we started off by collecting the blankets and passing them out at Trinity Cafe on Christmas Eve." 

The couple was so moved by the response that they decided to do more. 

"The next year, my husband said, ‘Are we going to do that blanket thing again?’ And I said, ‘yeah.’ So we did it and we got over 800 blankets," explained Beth. 

For volunteer Allison Grannell, the homeless always had a spot in her heart. 

"Just to see the joy on their faces. Just from getting a roll of toilet paper, or a pair of socks, or a hygiene kit, and so it's been such a blessing." 

For the Rosses, it's a mission that is needed. 

"I feel good doing it. You know, it's just a really good thing that we do. And I'm proud of my wife especially for starting it," added Ray. 

It's a big gesture that had small beginnings but now is helping the homeless in Tampa Bay. 

Beth's next mission is to buy a trailer and convert it into a rest stop for the homeless, providing showers and laundry facilities so people can clean up, wash up and feel better about tackling the day.