Above: Nancy Killilea of Edina has set up boxes at downtown Minneapolis hotels to gather extra winter gear that Super Bowl visitors may be stocking up on, donating it to local homeless organizations.
Thousands of ill-prepared visitors to Minneapolis may be frantically stocking up on hats, gloves and extra winter gear to weather the frigid temperatures before the Super Bowl.
And Nancy Killilea of Edina hopes they leave it all behind.
While listening to a Texan describe buying heavy-duty winter boots just for the Super Bowl in Minnesota and not needing them after the big game, Killilea suddenly got a last-minute idea: start a collection drive so visitors returning to warmer-weather states will leave the spontaneous winter gear purchases behind for the local homeless.
"We could reclaim those and offer it to those who need it here," she said.
She quickly launched the effort, dubbed Pass Your Parka, on Friday, dropping off some boxes at downtown Minneapolis hotels. By Sunday’s game day, she plans to have boxes at 13 downtown hotels with the simple plea: "Wherever you're going, it's warmer than here."
"Hopefully it's a meaningful contribution," she said. "Being homeless in Minnesota has to be the worst."
All winter gear that she collects will be donated on Tuesday to St. Stephen's Human Services and the House of Charity, which both assist local people experiencing homelessness.
In Minneapolis and the west metro suburbs, shelters for single adults are at capacity this week as they have been every week since summer, serving more than 900 adults. Extra outreach workers have been deployed during Super Bowl week to help the homeless escape the freezing temperatures and overwhelming crowds downtown. On Sunday, shelters for single adults will extend their hours to be open at night, even holding Super Bowl viewing parties.
While Eagles and Patriots fans hail from cold-weather states, they may not have all the extra winter gear Minnesotans are used to having to combat the cold. And many more Super Bowl visitors and wealthy travelers -- the average asking price for a seat at Sunday's game was $5,642 as of Friday -- are from warm-weather places, taking in the NFL’s biggest game.
Come Monday, Killilea hopes those people stocking up on extra gloves and hats or free gear from companies will ditch those items to help the less fortunate, even lightening their suitcase for the flight home.
"We need to help our neighbors," she said. "Hopefully this will have a bigger impact."