DJ Villnave has received several accolades for DJ’s Gift of Warmth, including Biz Events’ Youth Impact Award. He also received a Youth Service Agency (YSA) grant for $1,000, which he donated to the Rescue Mission. Villnave was named a Distinguished Finalist in the 20th annual Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program, for which the New York State Legislature congratulated him.
From an early age, DJ Villnave was pondering some big issues that other children might not give much consideration until a little later in their lives.
He was just 7 when he saw a story on the news about the Rescue Mission and its work with the homeless and the concerns about frostbite among people living on the street.
“I saw this and I had a blanket and I knew they were cold, and I wondered why they didn’t have a blanket and what could we do to help,” Villnave said. “This just evolved from there.”
This was the seed that started DJ’s Gift of Warmth, which just began its ninth year of collecting blankets.
Villnave said he is happy to see the way this effort has been supported.
Working in conjunction with the North Syracuse Central School District, Villnave and his father, Damon, have spent some time through the holidays placing boxes at all the area schools and other locations in the community.
This is work Villnave takes seriously, spending time throughout the year planning for the collection.
“This is something we spend all year doing,” Villnave said. “We have to coordinate with the district and other organizations we work with. It is time consuming, but I love it. I love doing this and knowing it is helping other people.”
Since its inception, the collection effort has been successful as far as Villnave is concerned.
“When we started I would have been happy if we could get 40 blankets,” Villnave said. “A lot of people have been so supportive of this. That is great to see the way people support this and what we are trying to do.”
Over the past eight years, DJ’s Gift of Warmth has collected close to 5,000 blankets as well as about $2,000.
These blankets have been distributed all around Central New York. Some of the places include Auburn, Ithaca, Binghamton and other outlying areas.
This year Villnave hopes to collect at least 550 blankets and he said while monetary donations are helpful and appreciated, donations of blankets are preferred as it makes it easier for the various organizations to distribute the blankets to those who need them.
Villnave has received several accolades for his work, including the Youth Impact Award, for which he was nominated by the Rescue Mission and given a plaque and a medal by Biz Events. He also received a Youth Service Agency (YSA) grant for $1,000, which he donated to the Rescue Mission.
Villnave was named a Distinguished Finalist in the 20th annual Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program, for which the New York State Legislature issued a legislative resolution congratulating him. Villnave is also a two-time Pop Warner All-American.
Villnave’s father said he is proud of his son and to see the dedication, determination and empathy his son has demonstrated over the past eight years.
“I’m very proud of him,” Damon said. “He has done a lot of work the past eight or nine years. Next year it will be decade and I am very proud of all the work he has done. This means a lot to him and to our whole family year after year.”
As DJ’s Gift of Warmth gets going for its ninth year and looks toward the decade mark in 2020, Villnave said he looks forward to the future of this collection.
“This is very important to me,” Villnave said. “There is a need for this year after year and as long as I am able to do this, I will be doing this.”
For more information visit facebook.com/DJsGiftOfWarmth/.
Drop off new and gently used blankets at any school in the North Syracuse Central School District:
Additionally, donation boxes will be available at the following community locations: