The recent cold weather is especially dangerous for the more than 4,000 people who are homeless in Nashville.
Earlier this month, a 50-year-old man was found dead in freezing temperatures on the steps of an East Nashville church. Authorities said Jimmy Fulmer had been sleeping on a small, covered porch near a side entrance of Crystal Fountain Church at South 10th and Russell streets, and the freezing temperatures likely contributed to his death.
A man who grew up in that neighborhood has made a donation that he hopes will help many of the community's homeless stay warm.
Gary Benz and his Williamson County company U.S. Imprints delivered 250 carryalls Friday to the Nashville Rescue Mission.
The "Gary-Alls," as he called them, include a pair of gloves, a hat and a fleece-lined, waterproof blanket that will be given to homeless men, women and children.
"It makes me feel good to help people in need. I know those guys are out there and they're struggling, going through tough stuff," Benz said.
Nashville Rescue Mission CEO Glenn Cranfield welcomed the packages, and expressed hope they could help prevent another tragedy.
"Taking care of their needs - just taking care of their basic needs - is just phenomenal," Cranfield said.
Homeless agencies depend a lot on people like Benz, and Mayor Karl Dean said we all need more people like him.
"The Union Mission, which gets no aid at all, does incredible work and the fact Mr. Benz helps out is a wonderful thing," Dean said.
Phillip Radican has been living on the streets for three years. He became homeless after caring for an ailing parent, losing his home in Indiana and falling deeper into bad situations.
"It gets cold out here. Any help from anybody - blankets, hot chocolate," said homeless resident Phillip Radican.
Radican received one of the "Gary-Alls" and said while the blanket isn't a cure for his circumstances, the gift will certainly help him brave the cold nights ahead.
Over the years, Benz has donated more than $8,000 worth of free blankets, hats and gloves for the homeless. The carryalls retail for about $35 apiece, and Benz said he's willing to do more to help the community he loves.
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