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'Spread the Warmth' campaign donates new blankets to kids in need

Faribault Mill permanently changed its business model in late September to provide high-quality, USA-made blankets to youth experiencing homelessness.

FARIBAULT, Minn. — After 157 years of being in business, Minnesota's Faribault Mill has permanently changed its business model, making a commitment to youth experiencing homelessness. The mill has partnered with organizations across 13 U.S. cities that support unhoused youth through their new Spread the Warmth campaign. For every bed blanket sold, they give away one to these organizations.

Ross Widmoyer, the president and CEO of Faribault Mill, said the commitment is a personal one. 

"I have two young kids," Widmoyer said. "One of the privileges of fatherhood is being able to tuck in both of my boys at night under a blanket. When you think about 4 million kids across this country, including here in the Twin Cities, they don't experience that same bedtime ritual, it's heartbreaking."

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While the campaign launched around the holiday season, it's here to stay - the Spread the Warmth initiative will give back year-round. One of the organizations it supports is YouthLink MN, the largest drop-in center in the Twin Cities that provides resources, warmth, food and refuge to youth experiencing homelessness.

"Obviously there's a huge need to have materials like that donated," CEO Rich Melzer said. "We obviously accept a lot of charity, but we want them to have things that are new. They deserve to have the best. I think this is indicative of that."

Melzer says the blankets not only meet an immediate need, but they're also a meaningful gesture.

"I think on one hand, the blankets can provide a sense of comfort, a sense of nurturing, but also basic need," he said. "We need young people to be warm. We need young people to withstand very cold temperatures here at times. And also it’s nice just to get new things. They deserve these things. They deserve to have nice things."

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