Winter is coming, and for those who live on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, many of them won't make it.
Within a couple of months, the temperatures at the American Indian reservation may dip as low as 50 degrees below zero.
Mike Donahe, who was born in the Lakota Sioux tribe, wanted to help the people living there survive the cold.
"A percentage of the elderly will freeze to death," said Donahe, a Summerfield resident. "I just couldn't sit here anymore."
With the help of Donahe's friend, Mike Goss, both of their families have begun a drive to collect blankets as well as propane, electric, or kerosene heaters that will be given to the Lakota.
"Anything we can do to support Mike and Becky, (Donahe's wife)," Goss said. "We're here to help them."
Donahe is calling his effort Spirited Heart.
I'm not getting involved with politics," Donahe said. "It's about the people."
The Goss and Donahe families had met while attending Heritage Community Church in Wildwood.
During a recent service, Goss had heard about Donahe's mission trip to the reservation.
"Then out of the blue, (the Donahes) invited us to dinner, and he shared his vision," said Goss, who lives in Fruitland Park. "We want to help the people, that's the bottom line."
Donahe said last spring there were 49 suicides at the reservation. Goss added that the annual income for those living there is around $3,500.
Around that same time, the news show "20/20" ran a story about the children of the Lakota tribe, which further explained the plight Donahe ahd witnessed.
In a relatively short time, the Donahes and Gosses have gathered several garbage bags filled with blankets. They also have about nine heaters as of Thursday night.
Several local churches already have pledged their support. Mike Tucker, fire chief with the District Public Safety Department, has agreed to let Villages residents drop off their blankets at any fire station in The Villages.
"It's a pretty noble cause and we are happy to be a part of it," Tucker said.
"The support is crazy," Donahe said.
Donahe wants to collect as many blankets as they can before Nov. 6, which is when they will take the items to South Dakota.
"Even if we raise 500 blankets, it's still worth it," Donahe said. "When people learn about (what goes on there), they don't believe it. It gets people to look into it, and they're shocked."
This blanket drive is the start of a long-term plan that includes making Spirited Heart a nonprofit organization.
Donahe originally wanted to build houses for the tribe, but with the onset of winter, he decided to get a short-term solution going - gathering blankets and heaters.
When spring arrives, Donahe wants to start construction on homes a the reservation.
"Hopefully the people can do something," Donahe said. "It's got to start with one person, I guess.
"Something so simple (as giving blankets) can change something (for the better). It's a big thing."
MAKING A DONATION
If you would like to donate blankets to Mike Donahe's Spirited Heart, you can drop off the items at any Villages District Public Safety Department fire station. For information about Spirited Heart, call Mike and Becky Donahe at 352-207-5017.