A new movie tells the harrowing and heartwarming story of a family who turned their pain into purpose, launching a powerful movement to help the homeless and disadvantaged.
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“5,000 Blankets,” which hits theaters nationwide Dec. 12 and 13, tells the real-life story of the Bunch family’s quest to collect thousands of blankets for the homeless.
The film specifically explores mom Cyndi Bunch’s real-life plight after her husband had a mental breakdown and she and her young son, Phillip, went to find him.
As they took to the streets to search for him, they saw the homeless in desperate need — and that eye-opening experience sparked a movement of compassion. Cyndi Bunch, whose story inspired the film, told CBN’s Faithwire how it all came to fruition.
“My husband was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and he quit taking his medicine,” she said. “And so he started disappearing.”
Bunch and Phillip, who was just 5 years old at the time, found themselves combing through the homeless district in Fort Worth, Texas. What they saw truly tugged at their hearts.
“I was just like, ‘Whoa. Wow. I mean, thousands of people just laying on the streets,” she said. “And Philip had never seen anything like that, ever.”
Watch Bunch tell her story of turning heartache into purpose:
Bunch, working two jobs and struggling at the time, remembered going home and feeding her young son dinner after searching to no avail. As she was tucking him in, her young son asked a series of questions that changed everything.
“He asked me, ‘Mom, are you warm?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, baby, I’m warm,'” Bunch recalled. “And then he said, ‘Well, do you think daddy’s warm?'”
The question surprised her, but she told her son she truly hoped his dad was warm. But that wasn’t the end of Phillip’s inquiry.
“He goes, ‘Well, mommy, what about all those other people on the street? Are they warm?'” she said. “And … I told him the truth. I said, ‘No, baby, they’re not warm.'”
Looking at his mother, the little boy said, “Well, we need to get lots and lots of blankets so we can warm ’em all up.”
And, with that, the seeds were planted for Phillip’s Wish, the family’s charitable organization. The next day, Phillip emptied his piggy bank and had just around $7. He told Bunch he wanted her to buy 5,000 blankets — something clearly impossible with such a small amount of money.
Despite Bunch’s struggles, her son’s tenacity, resolve — and his tenderhearted request — sparked a fire within her to help him reach his goal.
“It just struck me, because he just kept asking. So, it was kinda like a little whisper from God through him to me,” she said. “And so I typed up this letter, and it told the whole story of our lives.”
Bunch made a thousand copies of the note and stood on the streets of downtown Fort Worth, handing it out to anyone willing to take a copy. That letter asked for blankets and support for Phillip’s efforts.
Soon, word started to spread about the Bunch family’s efforts to collect blankets for the homeless.
Phillip and his mom did a local news report, and their blanket collection progressed. Then, a screenwriter called and was so captivated he wanted to turn the story into a movie. The end result is “5,000 Blankets,” a film that shows the power of turning pain into purpose.
Watch the “5,000 Blankets” trailer:
Years after the quest to help the homeless began, the family has given out around 50,000 blankets and sleeping bags, and Bunch now also runs a food pantry out of her garage.
“We started the food pantry eight years ago; we’re going into our ninth year now,” she said. “And it was something that I always wanted to do. … I wanted my hands in something good every day.”
The entire experience has truly shaped and infused Bunch’s Christian faith, with the loving mother calling God her “best friend.”
“He has carried me through so much. If it was not for Jesus Christ and my heavenly Father, I would’ve never made it through this,” she said. “Faith is huge. Faith will carry you. You just have to believe.”
Get tickets for “5,000 Blankets” here to see the full story depicted on the big screen.
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