North Texas Daily

Denton residents help people in need with Keep Denton Warm drive

Denton residents help people in need with Keep Denton Warm drive

Denton residents help people in need with Keep Denton Warm drive
December 04
17:50 2017

As temperatures outside drop, many people of Denton are faced with an increased need for sufficient winter clothing. Local charity group Friends with Benefits has stepped in with the Keep Denton Warm drive, whose mission is to help people in need during the colder months.

Mindy Arendt, Friends with Benefits co-founder and president, said the tight-knit organization aims to help residents of the Denton community all year, but they especially like doing a clothing drive during the holiday season.

“I’m very much hands-on,” Arendt said. “I give a lot with the city and local businesses and I’m constantly networking. I always want to make sure I’m doing my part.”

The drive has been accepting donations of hats, coats, new socks and gloves since Oct. 23 and will continue to collect them until Dec. 13.

“Myself and two other friends started Friends with Benefits four years ago,’’ Arendt said. “We wanted to give back to the community and raise awareness, and fund for local nonprofits. It really just takes partnership with drop-off locations and a nonprofit to distribute the goods to or do the drive for.”

Andrew McWilliams manages all social media for Friends with Benefits. As soon as he met Arendt, he knew he had to become a part of the organization.

“I absolutely fell in love with her and her mission, so I asked her if she needed some help,” McWilliams said. “Before I knew it I was on the Square taking pictures and making posts for the Keep Denton Warm kick-off party.”

This year, Friends with Benefits has paired up with Our Daily Bread for the Keep Denton Warm Drive. Arendt said the drive continues to grow with each partnership they establish.

“This will be our third year to do the Keep Denton Warm campaign,” Arendt said. “Every year, more businesses want to get involved.”

The closest donation drop-off to UNT campus is Lucky Lou’s on Hickory Street, so students who live on campus have a walking-distance location to give their gently-used winter gear to people in need.

Friends with Benefits board member Emily Francis lends her hand to the Keep Denton Warm drive by doing anything that needs to be done for them. She learned about Friends with Benefits from some of her friends from college, including Arendt. Francis started by simply volunteering at the events, and she started to get more involved a year ago.

“I love that the organization gives me the ability to take an active role in the North Texas community,” Francis said. “I also really love the democratic way we decide which local charities or organizations to partner with.”

Francis said businesses are always open to having donation boxes as long as they are well-managed. The Denton community has given positive and supportive feedback of the program.

Friends with Benefits is hoping to expand the program to UNT students as well. Francis said there could be donation boxes in dorms in the future.

“I imagine there would be plenty of donations from students who would rather give away items than throw them out or haul them to and from home every year,” Francis said.

Friends with Benefits volunteer coordinator Marielena Carpanzano has been involved with the organization for a little over a year.

“I haven’t had challenges where we couldn’t find a solution,” Carpanzano said. “Our organization is pretty strong to withstand little challenges.”

With a little bit more funding, Carpanzano foresees the organization growing across the state and even nationwide.

“I wouldn’t mind doing this for a living,” Carpanzano said.

Carpanzano encourages UNT students to become volunteers and go out to the events to support the passion the Friends with Benefits team has to help others.

“It’s such a great feeling at the end of a long event to feel exhausted, but to know we are making a difference in someone’s life,” Carpanzano said. “You actually feel good to feel tired.”

Donation drop-off locations for the Keep Denton Warm drive can be found at

“I think the biggest challenge has been picking who to help,” Friends with Benefits secretary Amber Tyler said. “There are so many nonprofits that need help or awareness.”

Featured Image: Donation drop-off locations for Keep Denton Warm can be found at Sasha Calamaco

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Anna Orr

Anna Orr

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