There’s no feeling quite like slipping between crisp sheets in a warm hotel room on a freezing winter’s night. And while nobody does beds better than Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! they also understand that there are legions out there who won’t have that luxury this season and are desperately in need of blankets.

The Twitter Blanket Drive #TBD2014 returns to Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! Cape Town and Melrose Arch this year with a twist – they’re adding another mindful giving component and asking people to deliver blankets along with large ziplock bags that can be used by recipients to keep important documents such as ID books or school books dry when many informal settlements will be under water the coming months.

The social media cause started in 2010, when Melanie Minaar (@MelanieMinaar) organised a Twitter meet-up and asked everyone to bring blankets for those in need. Only expecting to get a small number of responses, Melanie was blown away when her single tweet went viral, and within two weeks members of the South African Twitter community had donated more than 700 blankets to be distributed to charities.

Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! joined #TBD in 2011, and since then the hotel’s cool guests, visitors and celebrities have contributed to keeping more than 10 000 South Africans warm and dry.  Protea Hotels Group Marketing Manager Nicholas Barenblatt says the hotels’ guests are social by nature of their connectedness and conscious which is the main reason for this campaign being such a success year after year.

In excess of five million South Africans now use Twitter, and the number of South African Facebook users is higher than nine million. Protea Hotels Fire & Ice! GMs Gabrielle Abrahams and Johan Cronje want to make #TBD2014 the most successful Blanket Drive ever, so they’re using Twitter (obviously) and Facebook to encourage people to put their blankets where their mouths are and raid every nook and cranny of their houses for warm blankets to donate.

People have until (and including) 29 May to bring their blankets to the hotel drop-off point, either in Cape Town or Melrose Arch.

Guests staying in the hotels, who might not necessarily have travelled with their beloved blankies or don’t want to give them away if they did, can also join the cause by purchasing a blanket at either of the hotels, for just R75.

The collection will culminate in a special handover of blankets to the chosen charities at the official Twitter Blanket Drive Events, which will take place at both hotels simultaneously on Thursday 29 May, from 6pm. The events are open to everyone who brings a blanket on the night, and there will be entertainment, surprise celebrity appearances, drinks and delicious goodies to eat.

In Cape Town in particular, where winters are very wet, donations of polar fleece blankets are sorely needed because they dry more quickly, as are large ziplock bags for residents of informal settlements to keep any valuable documents from getting waterlogged. They are, of course, also extremely good for keeping blankets dry too!

Every hotel in the Protea Hotels group supports at least one charity or NGO per year, but most do far more than that.  Barenblatt says the company as a whole is committed to giving back to the communities in which it operates.

“The people at Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! may be the cool kids of group, but they have warm hearts. We’re immensely proud of what they’ve done with the Twitter Blanket Drive and we know we can break records this year.”

Among the recipient charities this year are Soul Food, which collects and distributes food supplies to approximately 30 shelters in the Witwatersrand region, and Operation Shoebox, which supports more than 5 000 children in Cape Town.

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