Moffitt Joins Blanket Tampa Bay to Help Homeless

By Amanda Sangster - November 16, 2020

When Moffitt Cancer Center patient Raymond Ross was finishing his chemotherapy, his church gave each family $100 and told them to do some good in the world. Ross’s wife, Beth, decided to take that money and buy blankets for homeless people. Five years later, the Ross family has given out more than 7,500 blankets through their non-profit organization, Blanket Tampa Bay.

Beth and Ray Ross smile and pose for a photo while Ray has his arm wrapped around Beth
Beth and Ray Ross started Blanket Tampa Bay 5 years ago.

“A homeless person and a cancer patient really have a lot in common,” said Beth. “Both can really happen to anyone at any time, and both need compassion and help to make it through.”

The organization has since served over 17,000 people in the Tampa Bay community. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve handed out hundreds of masks and additional hygiene supplies to help keep Tampa’s homeless population protected.

Now, Moffitt’s Green Committee is teaming up with Blanket Tampa Bay to provide sleeping bags made from surgical wraps to the homeless.

Boxes of surgical instruments wrapped in sterile blue surgical wraps sit on a shelf
Sterile blue wraps protect surgical equipment and are removed before any contamination occurs.

Led by Dr. Kris Lombardi, a clinical pharmacist, the cancer center’s Green Committee researches ways to promote environmentally conscious practices at Moffitt while being fiscally responsible. The committee has developed a robust recycling program and serves as an educational resource to assist Moffitt departments in establishing and implementing green practices.

Surgical wrap sewn into a sleeping bag lying flat on the floor
Sterile surgical wraps are sewn into sleeping bags for Tampa's homeless population

Moffitt learned of other hospitals using surgical wraps to sew sleeping bags for the homeless and jumped at the opportunity to join the cause. “The wraps are made from sterile material and used to keep instruments covered prior to a patient’s surgery,” said Lombardi. “The clean wraps are removed before a patient enters the room and are immediately thrown away.”

“When we are presented with a creative opportunity to help the community by repurposing our materials, our Green Committee members work together to make it a successful venture,” added Lombardi. “It is very rewarding to see how our Moffitt family’s care for humanity extends beyond the walls of the cancer center.”

With the upcoming cold weather months ahead, Moffitt’s Green Committee needs help to produce more sleeping bags for donation. “We have enlisted the help from our team members, local Girl Scout troops and local high school students, but we’re always in need of more sewers,” said Lombardi. For anyone interested in joining the sewing efforts, they can contact Lombardi by sending an email to GreenInitiative@Moffitt.org.

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