Cover the City

Ways volunteers are providing blankets to the homeless.

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Therssa Warren (left), along with her friend Jasmine Dawson, organized a Thrivent Action Team to gather supplies for the homeless in Tacoma, Washington.
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By Donna Hein ‚óŹ Photo by Devon Michelle Photography

Therssa Warren couldn’t shake the view of homelessness she encountered walking to her car after evening classes at the University of Washington-Tacoma. Streets lined with homeless people who didn’t even have blankets to keep warm.

“I prayed and asked God what I could do to help,” says Warren, who graduated in 2016 with a master’s degree in social work. Her prayer and her determination caused her to start Cover the City in Tacoma, a blanket and hygiene kit drive for displaced and transient people.

That first year, with one sponsor, family and friends, Warren collected and distributed about 100 blankets. The next year she added another sponsor and included hygiene kits.

That’s when Warren’s friend, Thrivent member Jasmine Dawson, stepped in. “I saw what Therssa was doing and her heart behind it,” she says. “I wanted to help.”

Dawson first formed a Thrivent Action Team in early 2019 to collect and purchase supplies to make about 150 hygiene kits, which included basic necessities like toothpaste, toothbrush and a first-aid kit.

“We packed them up, and with the blankets, went out into the community to give them out,” says Dawson.

The work has continued. Now, in its fourth year, Cover the City has grown in both the number of people it helps and what they receive. Socks, especially thick wool ones for Tacoma’s colder season, and hand warmers are high on the list of needs.

Warren is currently in the process of becoming a licensed clinical social worker. “I’ve met so many people and heard their stories of homelessness,” she says. “Most people don’t choose to be homeless. Being able to serve people right in my community is so important to me.”

Dawson agrees. She formed a Thrivent Action Team to help distribute more blankets, kits and socks this year. “Our church members donate, and we’ve also set up spots throughout the community where people can donate,” says Dawson, adding that shoe and clothing drives may be next. “I’m happy to be able to support this cause and give back.”