BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. — For 17 years, a small church in Blue Springs has collected tens of thousands of blankets and cold weather gear to help Kansas City’s homeless population make it through the harsh midwest winters.

Year after year, on the second weekend in January you’ll find a committed group of parishioners in a makeshift homeless camp with nothing but a burn barrel to keep them warm.

The first Christian church of Blue Springs has a very small congregation but they’re making a huge impact by donating whatever they collect to nine different agencies that serve Kansas city’s homeless.

It all started 17 years ago when the church was trying to collect about one thousand blankets for a ministry they served.

One person looked at our pastor and said I’ll sleep in the front yard if you do,” Matt Calhoun said. It was a crazy enough idea that we kind of liked it. how do we get the attention because that’s not going to fill a need long-term.”

They started calling their annual effort freezing for a reason and to date, they’ve collected almost a million blankets.

You can donate your blankets, camping gear, and cold weather gear year-round at the First Christian church of blue springs or you can make a financial donation on their website.