Homeless blankets follow up

Truthfully, I wasn’t even sure how to write about this so I just kept putting it off.  But so many of you helped and it turned out far better than I ever imagined, I would feel pretty ungrateful if I didn’t at least give a little update.

On December 8th I sent out a little call for help with a project I was doing.  I wanted to collect as much money as I could to buy blankets for the homeless community in my area.  You can read all about WHY I wanted to do it and what I asked in this post.

We collected money for 5 days, made 4 trips to Costco, raised around $4500 from 130 different people.

We donate often to the Road Home shelter in Salt Lake City and I’ve seen the donation center around Christmas time.  It’s overflowing with things and slightly chaotic.  I was worried the blankets might get “lost” for a bit before they got in to the hands of people who needed them right away.  So we decided to hand them out directly to the homeless out on the streets instead of going through the shelter (I love the shelter and love donating there, this just felt like special circumstances and timing–normally we still donate through the shelter).

I was admittedly pretty nervous.  I’d never donated this way before and I had no idea what to expect.  I wasn’t worried about my safety.  Just nervous of the unexpected I guess.  And I truly just wanted it to be helpful and not some dumb project that just made us “feel better”.

So on a snowy Saturday morning, we drove downtown with our kids and a few family members, 2 cars full to the ceiling with blankets and socks, and a wagon.  We went to Pioneer Park in downtown Salt Lake, a known area where the homeless community gathers.  We loaded up the wagon, our pockets and our arms with the blankets and socks and walked from group to group handing them out.

The people were gracious and kind.  Some were chatty and had stories to tell.  Some clearly had mental illness.  A few were visibly drunk.  But they were polite and thankful and plenty were full of humor and smiles.  My kids were a little nervous at first, but they quickly realized these are just people.  And the people loved seeing my kids.

After giving blankets and socks to everyone at the park, we headed over to the shelter and handed the rest out to people outside around the building.

We handed out close to 200 blankets and more than that amount of socks.  And my only reason for sharing is to THANK all of you who helped make it possible.  We saw a need (it’s so cold here in Utah in the winters), we found something that would fill the need (those Costco down blankets are magic), and we asked all of you to help us.  And you did.

I’m hoping we (I could never have done this without so many of you helping) can make this an annual tradition because it worked.  It helped people.  For those who got the blankets, it made a difference for them.  We can’t help everyone and I know it gets overwhelming when we see all the need around the world, but we CAN do SOMEthing and we can make a difference.  It’s what we’re meant to do.  I believe that with my whole heart.

Worth a read.

{Stick with me on this.  I need your help.}

There’s this guy I see walking around town.  He’s a bigger guy.  Long unbrushed hair.  Scruffy beard. His layers and layers of clothes look unwashed.  He carries a big black bag and leads his healthy looking black dog around with him.  I seem to see him a lot.  Or maybe the brief encounters I have every so often are just more memorable than most people I see around town.

Every time I pass him, I wonder (sometimes out loud to my kids)

“what is his story?”

“where does he go at night?”

“how did he end up on the streets?”

“why does he stay around here (where resources are limited)?”

“where is his family?  Do they know where he is?  Is he in contact with them?”

“what is his name?”

Every time the questions flood in.  And I wonder.  But I never stop besides to once-in-a-while hand him a few dollars out the window as I continue on my way to finish all the things I “have” to do.

But today was different.  Today I left the grocery store in my nice warm winter coat (let’s ignore the fact that I had flip-flops on because flip flops are life and I will wear them all year) and said out loud “Holy flip it’s freezing” as I ran through the parking lot to my car.

{It’s cold in Utah right now.  So so so so cold.  And it will only get colder.  And somehow, every year, I forget how cold it gets.  And I forget how long it lasts.}

Anyway.  I digress.  I walked out of the store, in the freezing weather, loaded my car full of groceries I’m privileged to have money to buy and as I drove out of the parking lot, there he was.  I rolled down the window, said hello, handed him a few dollars, looked him in the eye (because THIS will never leave my mind), and continued on my way.

As I drove away, thinking about him, and all the questions that come with his presence, I had a thought.  It was a reminder actually of something I’ve been meaning to do, but managed to keep putting off because that’s how we let life push us around sometimes.

Here’s where we get to the REAL reason for this post.  There are these blankets at Costco.  They’re down blankets.  They pack into a little carrying case that is small and super easy to carry.  And truth be told, the blankets are MAGIC.  They are SO warm.  They’re deceiving in size and weight, but they hold in the heat like you wouldn’t believe.

A while back I thought “I should buy a bunch of these for the homeless shelter and homeless community (who don’t use the shelter)”.  They’re perfect for people on the move who are subject to the extreme cold.  They pack easily in to a small case, they weigh next to nothing, and they’re easy to wipe off and clean.

Seeing this man reminded me to quit thinking about it and “DO IT”.

I know there are so many worthy causes, especially this time of year.  The beauty of this–the blankets are only $20.  Twenty bucks and it can literally change someone’s day-t0-day life.  I hate being cold.  Hate it.  It affects everything.  My mood, my spirit, my attitude, my ability to think and function or accomplish anything, my ability to be nice.  Being cold is part of the devil’s plan.  And I’d love to help people NOT be cold.

Back to the story for a minute.  Instead of going home, I went to Costco, bought a blanket, drove back to the man and parked my car.

I’m embarrassed to admit, I felt stupid.  I felt nervous.  My heart started beating fast and the doubts assaulted their way in to my head.

I’m pretty introvert and walking up to a stranger like that is on my list of “man I really hate this” things to do.

But, whatever.  The guy was out in the cold.  He’s outside a lot of the day (I know, because I see him).  And my best guess is he’s staying out most of the nights too.  He’s one of MANY who are in similar circumstances.

I got out of my car, wondering what in the world I was doing, and walked over to him.  I asked his name, asked about his dog (who you could tell he loved with his whole heart) and asked him if something like this blanket would be helpful (I didn’t want to push something on him he didn’t actually need/want).

We didn’t talk long, and he wasn’t very chatty.  I had no expectations.  I didn’t expect him to say much to me (also a stranger and probably equally as awkward for him).  I certainly didn’t expect any praise or huge amounts of gratitude because truth be told, I wouldn’t be terribly grateful in that moment if I were him.  I also didn’t feel comfortable asking more questions than that.  I don’t know him and didn’t feel I had a right of access to his story without putting in the effort of knowing him.

But he was kind.  And gracious.  And I could tell maybe a little self-conscious (I feel ya buddy).

But that blanket–it will keep him warm.  I know it will because I have one and I’m pretty sure it saved my life one night at a football game ;).

Okay.  Back to the point.

I want to buy a bunch of these blankets.  For the homeless community around me and in the surrounding cities.  I’ve been in contact with my local Homeless Shelter, the Road Home, and have suggestions and advice from them.

I’m inviting all of YOU to help me.  I’d love to raise as much money as I can so I can buy as many blankets as possible and give them to those who just need a little warmth, both in body and in soul.

Twenty bucks.  Twenty dollars buys a blanket and it could make all the difference in someone’s life.  Not being dramatic on that one.

You can donate a dollar.  You can donate $10.  If you donate $20 it buys a blanket.  If you’re willing to donate more, we’ll buy more.

Small things with great love truly do add up.  And they matter.  They make a difference.  WE make a difference.  And those people we’re trying to help, THEY make a difference too.

To participate, you can:

Venmo the money to me, @lindsayross17 (my profile photo is me on a little motorcycle) OR

Paypal to [email protected] (be sure to mark that you’re sending it to friends and family or they’ll charge a fee).

Or if you’re close to me (and know me), feel free to just drop some cash by or I’ll come pick it up.

I know it’s hard to just send money to someone, but I hope you trust I will use every cent toward the homeless community.  I’m not keeping a dime.  I’ll document the entire process, report how many blankets we buy, and document the delivery of the blankets.

I will be accepting donations until DECEMBER 12th.  

I’ll then add up the money, buy the blankets and take them to the people who need them sometime next week (documenting it all of course to share with all of you).

As always, THANK YOU to those of you who continue to show up each year as I do my best to do something small for the homeless community.  They have and will continue to have my heart.  I just can’t wrap my brain or heart around someone not having a place to call home.

I just finished a book called “Welcome Homeless” by Alan Graham.  It was eye opening to say the least and I LOVE love love the work Alan Graham is doing.  He built a community for the homeless in Austin, Texas and a “food truck” for the homeless called Mobile Loaves and Fishes–nothing short of inspired.

I’ll leave you with something he said:

“Our dream of connecting human to human and heart to heart has become a reality.  This was never going to be a transactional housing model for the homeless.  People are not just objects to satisfy–Here’s your green soup; now go sleep on a cot.  We are meant to hold the promise of life to others.  Start treating people with dignity and respect.  Start doing that, and the world–cannot–will not–stay the same, because people respond to being loved.”

People respond to being loved.  Amen, my friend.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask away.  [email protected]

Venmo, Paypal, or cash.  $20 buys a blanket.  Collecting until December 12th.  Those cardboards signs–the ones that say “Anything helps”–those signs are true.  Every donation, big or small, makes a difference.


Side note–for those of you who are close to me, I will also be happy to take any gently used clothing, blankets, or sheets you are willing to donate to the homeless shelter and will take that down with me when we take the new blankets.  You can look on the Road Home website for a current list of immediate/urgent needs if you’d like to donate something more that I can with me.

Drop them off on my porch by December 11th.  THANK YOU!


Newborns are my favorite.  Newborn twins?  Twice the fun.  Twice the challenge.  And these particular twins just happen to be my nephews.  I’ve never photographed newborn twins before and though I’m not doing much with photography sessions anymore, I wanted to share these photos.

My brother and his wife had to fight pretty hard to get them here and endured quite the battle all the way until the minute they were born.  Love these little guys.


Alternative to school Headshots 2017

{It’s that time of year again!!  I’ve been offering these headshots for a several years now and keep getting more and more requests.  Here we go again!}

As awesome as school pictures are (and by awesome I mean great blackmail for the future), once my own kids started school I decided to do my own head shots and offer it to others as well.

If you’d like an alternative/replacement for the traditional school pictures that no one ever displays, this is for you.  They’re also nice to have for those times you need a picture of your kid (for a school project, grandparent, special occasion, etc) and realize you don’t have any where they aren’t being a complete booger.

The cost is $10 per kid OR $40 per family (so if you have 3 kids, it’s $30, if you have 4 or more kids it’s $40).  This will include a vertical and horizontal headshot of each kid with a white background.

If you want a GROUP photo of all of your kids together, you can add that on for $25.  

Pictures will be edited in color AND black and white and you will receive a high-resolution digital copy (via Dropbox) so you can print whatever you want.  Cheaper (and cooler) than school pictures.  Non-school age children are welcome as well.

Our school allows us to just buy the class photo, so my kids still get their school picture taken and we just purchase the class photo (in elementary).  Then we use these alternative photos as our yearly photos.

I will be taking “school picture” head shots in LEHI (I will e-mail you the address after you sign up) on Tuesday, September 12th, Thursday, September 14th, and Monday September 18th. 

Click THIS LINK for Tuesday, September 12th to sign up for a time slot. (one spot left)

Click THIS LINK for Thursday, September 14th to sign up for a time slot. (5 spots left)

Click THIS LINK for Monday, September 18th to sign up for a time slot. (one spot left)

Click THIS LINK for Monday, September 25th to sign up for a time slot (NEW DATE ADDED).


Sign-up times are first-come-first-served so if a specific time works better for you, signing up ASAP is a good idea (I’ve run out of time-slots each year).  Once you sign-up, please be sure to make your appointed time.  If you need to change your time for any reason, please do it as soon as possible so someone else can take your time-slot.

You only need ONE TIME SLOT PER FAMILY!  (Each kid only takes 1-2 minutes plus a group shot if you want to add that on so just 10 minutes per family is enough time).

If these dates/times don’t work for you, I will probably be doing a make-up date for those who can’t make it.  E-mail me to let me know you are interested and we’ll try to work something out.

If all time slots fill up quickly, I may open another date (in Lehi).

The head shots only take about 5 to 10 minutes depending on the moods of the kids (because you know, kids).

Please mention in the comments (on the sign up sheet) how many kids you’ll be bringing and if you want a group shot or not.


To see more samples of what the headshots will look like, click on the arrows to scroll through the photos!

If you have any questions feel free to contact me at [email protected]

***If you have any friends/family you think would be interested, I would love for you to pass this information along!***

Total eclipse

When I was in 9th grade, a partial solar eclipse happened in my town.  I’m sure we were warned a dozen times not to look at it, but I did because I was 15 and stupid.  And just as promised, it damaged my eyeball.  I had a bright spot in my eye for around 6 months after and had to wear glasses for a while.  It wasn’t one of my prouder moments.

Thankfully it healed itself (because the human body is amazing) and I got to ditch the glasses.  Sweet mercy.

So when I first heard about an eclipse coming again, I was pretty “Meh” about it.  Burned my eyeball once.  Not super interested in doing it again.  I didn’t pay much attention to the whole thing and wasn’t making special efforts to see it.

The Saturday before the eclipse rolled around, mom guilt got the better of me.  So I tracked down some eclipse viewing glasses (not an easy feat when you procrastinate) for my kids to watch it.  Basically a drug deal in a parking lot, money quickly exchanged, glasses slipped under my shirt, quick exit from the scene with eyes on my rearview mirror.

Saturday night a friend shared a TED talk on Facebook.  The title:  “You owe it to yourself to experience a total solar eclipse”  Pretty bold statement if you ask me.  I was skeptical, but I watched it because that’s what you do at 10:30 on a Saturday night.

As the speaker started to describe what happens during a total eclipse (NOT to be mistaken as a partial eclipse) he mentioned the darkening sky, the distinct glow of the corona of the sun, and the stars you can see in the middle of the day.

Wait.  It gets dark?  And you can see stars??  Why hadn’t anyone mentioned this before?  Or maybe they had and I certainly wasn’t listening.

Maybe this was a bigger deal than I originally thought.  Maybe this was something I shouldn’t miss.  I debated.  Went back and forth.  Read everything I could.  Watched videos from previous total eclipses around the world (isn’t the Internet rad).  And decided I was too close not to try (the total eclipse was happening in a town 3 1/2 hours away from me).

So I packed up my kids, put one outfit for each of them in a bag, threw a cooler full of food and a case of water in the back (because awful traffic coming home and a possible apocalypse was anticipated) and off we went.

Even up until the moment before the total eclipse happened, I was doubtful.  Would it be as amazing as people made it sound?  Would it really go dark?  Would we really see stars in the sky in the middle of the day?  How could it possible live up to what I thought it might be–What I thought it should be for the hype going on?

(Taking selfies with eclipse glasses on is wicked hard)

We went to a spot by a big open field, no trees or tall buildings around so we could see well.  I was concerned with how we would know when we could take our glasses off and look at it (once it’s the total eclipse, it’s safe to look at it without the special glasses–or so people said).  I just didn’t know what to expect.

The moon slowly moved. And the sun slowly disappeared, sliver by sliver by sliver.  We craned our necks up to the sky.  Held our glasses to our face (those three-blind-mice glasses don’t stay on so well).  And then it went dark.  The sun disappeared.

(Took a poor photo of the sun through solar eclipse glasses with my cell phone)

Off the glasses went.  We knew.  It was time.

I’m not terribly dramatic nor would I say I’m easily excited or overly impressed by much.

But I’m not exaggerating when I say looking at a total solar eclipse was the.most.amazing.thing I have ever seen in my entire life. Words can’t describe.  Pictures don’t do it justice.  It’s not just something you SEE.  It’s something you FEEL.

There was the perfect dark circle of the moon blocking the sun.  Around the black circle was a defined bright light, not too bright to look at but the most beautiful light I’d ever seen.  A light beyond description.  The sky darkened.  The stars came out.  There was an orangish-red sunset on the horizon 360 degrees all around us.  The street lights came on.  The temperature cooled.

People yelled and cheered.  Some people cried.  My kids jumped up and down.  I stood there in awe.

It wasn’t just what we saw.  It was how it made us feel.  We saw a part of the universe and cosmos we had never seen before.  I felt a part of something bigger–something more important than our human selves can even comprehend.

In the realm of all that was happening, I was nothing.  And yet, I was everything.

It was as if, for a moment, God peeked his head out and said “yep, I’m really here.”


David Baron was right.  “You OWE it to yourself to experience a total solar eclipse.”  Notice he didn’t say “see”.  It’s an experience you’ll never forget and one I dare say will actually change you.

If in your lifetime there is ever a total solar eclipse that is even remotely realistic for you to get to, do whatever you have to to get there.  You won’t regret it.

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