Idea to rehab old tent for homeless inspires more tent donations

Tim Marshall removes lights hanging inside his tent in Camp Shameless earlier this month as he and many remaining residents of the homeless camp on Columbus' Near East Side prepared to move into temporary, transitional housing as part of a pilot program by the city of Columbus.

I’m not sure why I’ve been so slow on the uptake on this one.

In a recent column, I shared a decision I’d made regarding an old tent of mine. The tent had served me well for a good 30 years and was still functional, but I’d upgraded a while back and there seemed little reason to hang onto it any longer.

Throwing it out didn’t seem right, though.

It took me longer than it should have to realize that with a few repairs, I didn’t have to toss it. Having read and written recently about homelessness in the city, I decided to fix it up and pass it along to someone who could use it on the streets.

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I saw it as a personal recycling project, and I figured that would be the end of it.

The author's 30-year-old tent, foreground, spent its last few nights in the woods on this trip to northern Pennsylvania in June 2022. Or so he thought. Now it may have a second life.

Then I received a wake-up bonk on the head, in the form of a reader email.

“I have a serviceable tent that I have thought about giving to the homeless,” the sender said. “Where can I take it?”

Good question. My plan hadn’t gone farther than fixing the poles for my tent, waterproofing it, and walking out to some of the homeless camps I’ve visited through the years to see if there were any takers.

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