Ruby Merritt ‘19 has been helping keep Berkshire County warm for several winters. A senior from Lenox, Mass., Ruby’s project “Blanket the Berkshires,” aims to provide wool blankets to shelters and social welfare centers in Berkshire County and surrounding areas.
Ruby recently shared her Black Rock Scholars project at all-school meeting. “This project is very important to me,” she said. “And giving the presentation was a key aspect in including the Berkshire School community.”
The Black Rock Scholar program’s culminating project requires students to lead an initiative that serves a local or global community. Black Rock Scholars engage in five core areas related to the program’s mission: sustainability, diversity and inclusion, sense of place, global awareness, and Ruby’s focus, community service and philanthropy.
“Ruby's project is a good example of what students can achieve through the Black Rock Scholars program,” explained program coordinator Donald Anselmi. “Her passion for this cause has pushed her to better understand her areas of focus--especially community service and sense of place--tenants of Berkshire's mission and experience.”
The Kemp USA blankets that Ruby plans to purchase and distribute are the go-to, EMS industry standard for humanitarian aid and relief, used by the Red Cross and Unicef. At $10 each, Ruby’s goal is to raise $5,000 by January 15th to provide 500 blankets to people in need in the area. The fundraising strategy involves a community effort in which students help in the appeal-writing process to secure funding from friends and family members. She plans to distribute the blankets by February 1st.
No stranger to philanthropic endeavors, as an eighth grader Ruby and a classmate created "Hugs for Gloves," a program that sought to unmask discrimination within the community through giving individuals in need warm winter gloves in exchange for hearing their stories. For her commitment to helping those in need, her work was recognized by the Shoah Foundation at USC, and she was awarded the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library's Make a Difference Award for youth recognition. In the winter of 2016-17 she started the original “100 Blankets Project,” raising funds to purchase blankets for those in need in the local community.
“After donating the blankets and talking with some of the individuals, I watched as children, families, senior citizens, and veterans accepted the gifts with appreciation,” she explained. “The feeling I got when they smiled at me or told me how grateful they were was all it took to make me want to do it again.”
Her vision for “Blanket the Berkshires” extends beyond the current campaign. Ruby hopes that the project will continue after she graduates in May. “She plans to turn her idea into a nonprofit organization during the second half of this year which will help ensure its continuance and legitimacy,” said Anselmi.
This fall, Ruby was contacted by the director of the Christian Center, one of the shelters that received blankets during her 2017 initiative. “I was told how these blankets literally saved lives during the recent cold spells,” she said. “As city and state officials continue to address the issue of homelessness, there is an immediate need to help these people stay warm and, together, we can help.”
To learn how you can help Ruby "Blanket the Berkshires," please send an email to Berkshire's Communications Office or firstname.lastname@example.org.