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MARBLE FALLS — It’s one of Sam Bhakta’s favorite projects as the head of Quality Inn of Marble Falls. And each year, the motel staff, guests and community members put a big grin across his face as help others within the Highland Lakes community.

What is it that makes Bhakta smile?

Quality Inn of Marble Falls’ annual blanket and food drive.

“It’s something we all look forward to,” said Cindy Westbrook of Quality Inn. “Sam and I want to make this year the biggest yet.”

The concept is simple. People collect gently used blankets from home, or buy new ones, and drop them off at Quality Inn, 1206 U.S. 281 (just south of the Mission Hills-281 intersection) in Marble Falls between Nov. 27 and Dec. 20. The lobby is open 24 hours a day, making drop-offs convenient for everyone.

Along with the blankets, the motel is collecting non-perishable food items for Highland Lakes food pantries. After Thanksgiving, many of the food pantries are feeling a pinch as they gear up for Christmas and the days beyond.

“And we’ll also accept monetary donations,” Westbrook said.

The blanket drive idea came up five years ago when Westbrook and Bhakta saw a need for something warm and comforting for people at the Highland Lakes Family Crisis Center and similar facilities that provide refuge and shelter for folks. A blanket, though simple, can be a comfort to somebody facing an unknown future. Plus, with winter weather approaching, it’s just nice and warm.

“It doesn’t sound like a lot, but for someone who needs a blanket and gets one, it makes a tremendous difference,” Westbrook said.

The motel will donate all the collected items among LACare in Burnet, Sharing the Harvest in Kingsland, the Open Door Recovery House in Marble Falls, the Highland Lakes Family Crisis Center and The Helping Center of Marble Falls.

The drive culminates Dec. 20 with an open house at Quality Inn from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. People of all ages can enjoy food and fun. Plus, Santa Claus will be there on his motorcycle for lots of photo opportunities.

Call (830) 693-7531 for more information.