Cape Town, May 2016: South Africa’s winter cold is about to set in, and the Twitter Blanket Drive – #TBD2016 – aims to help ease the cold for some of our country’s poor and homeless. Protea Hotels Fire & Ice! around the country are once again assisting with the annual drive by acting as drop-off points for the donation of blankets for the cold winter months.
The Blanket Drive community initiative started in 2010 when Melanie Minnaar sent out a Tweet calling on others to help collect blankets for poor and homeless people. Melanie was blown away when her single tweet went viral, and within two weeks, members of the South African Twitter community had donated more than 700 blankets to be distributed to charities. In 2011, 2 700 blankets were collected, and the number has grown substantially every year since.

“The Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! has been involved in the initiative since 2011, and we’re thrilled to be able to assist again this year,” says Nicholas Barenblatt, Group Marketing Manager of Protea Hotels, a proud member of Marriott International. “All Protea Hotels support a cause of their choice; our philosophy is that we need to give back to our communities. The involvement in the blanket drive is an initiative that we proudly support.”

This year, the Protea Hotel Marine in Port Elizabeth has decided to offer its services, too, and will be acting as a drop-off point as well.

“For us as a Twitter community, social responsibility is a serious business,” says #TBD2016’s national co-ordinator and Cape Town host, Merentia van der Vent. “As winter’s bite fast approaches, we are aware that charities are under a huge amount of pressure to meet the demand for blankets. In today’s digital world, we have the power to make significant change, in the area of social development, harnessing the power of social media.”

With long range weather forecasts indicating a strong possibility of higher than normal rainfall for the coming winter months, the Blanket Drive is aiming to collect more blankets than ever this year. Many South Africans live in informal structures in low-lying areas, and there is a very real threat of people being seriously affected by heavy rains.

“For those of us more fortunate, this is a wonderful opportunity to impact the lives of others in a positive way. We encourage members of the public to bring their blanket donations to the Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! properties in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria, and the Port Elizabeth community is welcome to drop their blanket donations off at the Protea Hotel Marine,” says Barenblatt. “The more we collect, the greater the number of people we can help to face a freezing winter.

“In addition to blankets, we need polar fleece items and Ziplock bags – the bags are particularly helpful for residents of informal settlements in the Western Cape where winter rains can be a real problem.”

The donated blankets are distributed to various charities, such as Operation Shoebox and Cape Town Child Welfare in the Western Cape, and Soul Provider, a Johannesburg organisation that assists more than 25 shelters with food and other items.

“Members of the public who are keen to participate can drop off their blanket donation or buy a blanket for R100 at any of the Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! properties from now until 26 May,” Barenblatt explains. “Those who wish to join the official event for the handover of the blankets to the relevant charities should bring their donation of blankets to their nearest Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! on Thursday, 26 May, after 18:00.”

Further information is available on Follow @FireandIceCT, @FireandIceMA and @FireandIceME, and

Contact details for the Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! properties are:

Cape Town:
New Church Street, Tamboerskloof
Phone: 021 488 2555

Melrose Arch, Johannesburg:
22 Whitley Road, Melrose Arch Precinct, Johannesburg
Phone: 011 218 4000

Menlyn, Pretoria:
Summit Place Precinct, 213 Thys Street, Menlyn
Phone: 012 471 8600

Protea Hotel Marine:
Marine Drive, Summerstrand, Port Elizabeth
Phone: 041 583 2101