LSU fans can buy with purpose: Blanket purchases benefit homeless _lowres

Photo provided by JOSH HELLAND -- LSU is one of the schools that has logo blankets sold by With a Purpose, which donates a plain blanket to ministries to the homeless for every one purchased.

There are plenty of things LSU fans can buy to keep warm. One company offers a blanket designed to provide a warm feeling, too.

In 2013, Josh Helland, of southern California, started With a Purpose, which sells blankets in school colors and logos. For each blanket sold, mostly through the company’s website,, it donates a blanket to a charity that assists the homeless.

The giveaways don’t make With a Purpose unique — Tom’s shoes and others donate products to the less fortunate. But the blankets let buyers show their school spirit, too.

LSU was one of the first seven schools with logo blankets when With a Purpose sales began two football seasons ago, joining Tulane, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Southern Methodist and San Diego State. Their product line has expanded to 18 schools, and Helland expects to add 20 to 25 more this fall.

“LSU is one of our better sellers,” he said.

And that’s good news for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Baton Rouge, and three Crescent City ministries — Bridge House/Grace House, New Orleans Mission and UNITY of Greater New Orleans.

“They’ve been wonderful to work with,” said Michael Acaldo, St. Vincent de Paul CEO. “They don’t require much of us other than to be a recipient. They typically will send us a load of blankets just to start, and, depending on how many blankets they sell, they’ll send us more, which I think is a wonderful thing to do. … I think that shows a lot of compassion and a lot of understanding of really wanting the goods to get to us when they’re needed. I really think a whole lot of them.”

Helland came up with the idea after helping a friend start A Good Night Sleep, which provides new beds to people who are transitioning out of homelessness.

The blankets come in various sizes. None sent to homeless shelters have school logos.

“A lot of people think St. Vincent de Paul helps just homeless men, but we provide shelter to homeless men, women and children, so those smaller blankets come in real handy for the toddlers and 4- and 5-year-olds, and the larger ones for the adults,” Acaldo said.

Helland hopes to have the blankets in stores this fall, when the LSU design will be an “eye of the tiger” logo.