A01 C&J With two youngest g-daughters just before becoming homeless.jpg

GRANDMOTHER — Christine McCaleb with two of her three granddaughters, just before McCaleb’s mental-health services were cut and she lost her public housing.

Family members of Christine McCaleb, the homeless woman killed in a stabbing as she slept on a bench Oct. 16 in Downtown DeLand, are hoping Christine’s death can spur some good for other homeless individuals.

"So many of us feel inadequate to help, and feel we have our hands tied. My wife and I have decided we need to do something. Together, we are starting an outreach to the homeless. We want to start with providing a blanket for cold nights,” Stanley Arel, Christine’s son-in-law, posted on Facebook. “We hope this outreach grows and also educates [people] about the homeless[ness] issue, especially the many thousands who suffer with a mental illness.”

The family has established two drop-off locations for blankets for homeless individuals:

  • Kneading Sweets Bakery, 115 E. Rich Ave., DeLand
  • Tomoka Christian Church, 1450 Hand Ave., Ormond Beach

"We are also accepting blankets in lieu of flowers at Christine's memorial service," Arel said.

The family has planned a memorial service for Christine at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, at Tomoka Christian Church.

“From there, we are planning on tagging [the blankets] with a simple card of encouragement and distributing them to places that assist the homeless and to [the] homeless directly,” Arel said. “We are focusing on new fleece blankets because they are light and easy to travel with.”

He said Christine’s favorite color was hunter green and, while they are encouraging people to donate blankets in that color scheme, they will accept any new or like-new blankets.

— Anthony DeFeo