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Powerful lessons from new film: ‘5000 Blankets’

Fr. Edward Looney - published on 12/10/22

When a mentally troubled man disappears, his wife and son's search leads to the establishment of a charity for the homeless.

The movie 5000 Blankets will be screening in theaters December 12 and 13 though a special Fathom Events release. This powerful film recounts the true story and struggles of the Saunders family and their journey to overcoming stigmas, accepting the past, and helping others. 

The husband and father, Bobby, battles with mental illness and, after a breakdown, vanishes from the family and community, becoming homeless. His wife and son, Cyndi and Phillip, must move from their home into her mom’s house and Phillip is ridiculed by classmates. Both mother and son overcome adversity and thrive in the situation. 

The movie takes place around Christmas, making it a different type of Christmas movie; instead of a romantic comedy, you will see an inspiring and uplifting story. And here are a few other lessons you will walk away with from 5000 Blankets

Power of scripture

Faith has a part in the movie. Several scenes bring us to the local community church to hear an inspiring word or message from the pastor. In the opening minutes of the film, Bobby sits in the pew listening to the words of scripture. For each person who hears the Word of God, what it says to them will be different from what the person sitting next to you in the pew might hear. 

Ups and downs of marriage

When a couple pronounces their vows on their wedding day, often they include “in sickness and in health.” Couples never know what might happen when they say those words. Cyndi didn’t know the struggles her husband would face with mental health, but she never abandons him and is there by his side encouraging him and fighting for him. She also defends her husband to her son, wanting him to know that no matter where he is, she still loves him very much. 

Choosing how one acts

Phillip faces harsh comments and actions while at school. People make fun of him and his father, which causes him to act out. The message his mother tells him is that we can choose how we act or react in each situation. It is sound motherly advice for her son, but also for us. The next time you are faced with a situation, pause, and consider what you should do. We also can choose to allow something to affect us adversely or we can rise above it and become a better person. 

A face for the homeless

An early scene in the movie has Phillip helping a homeless person on the street, gaving this person money. Even before his father was living on the streets, he had a heart for the homeless. One of the powerful aspects of this film is that it gives a face to homelessness. It shows that they can be treated with dignity and respect. 

The main message is that we can treat the homeless with kindness, even or especially if they have mental illness. So often we try to ignore the homeless problem. We don’t want to be confronted with it. This movie makes people see what they try not to see. 

Difficulty in helping

Phillip has a wish to collect and distribute 5,000 blankets to the homeless. As blankets slowly come in, however, the reality of what it means to have so many blankets overwhelms Cyndi and Phillip. They encounter difficulties in giving away the blankets to homeless shelters who tell them they need other items such as toiletries. 

It is a good reminder for us to help in useful ways, but it also shows the red tape that prevents people from helping. The mother and son combo do not allow this to discourage them and find a way to make their campaign a success.

Power of community

The pastor of the local church visits Cyndi one day. He tells her that her family came to mind while he read scripture and consequently he thought he should visit and reach out. This leads to the church community becoming involved in the project. The movie communicates the message that we are stronger when we are together.

Power of kindness

5000 Blankets is all about being kind. A simple act of kindness can do a lot of good for someone. It can bring warmth to those who are cold. To a person who has doubts, it might restore their faith. For a despairing person, it might bring hope. 

You never know what can come from a kind word, gesture, or action. The story of the Saunders family and what they faced has led to an organization called Phillip’s Wish that continues to help the poor and homeless. Kindness is still being extended so many years later. 

5000 Blankets will be in theaters for two days, December 12 and 13. The movie is rated PG-13 because of its treatment of mental illness. It is a movie that will inspire you to kindness and service and will open your eyes to the needs of people around you.

Vistit Fathom Events to find a theater near you.

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