Blanket Brigade Warms Hearts and Minds During the Most Difficult Times
Amidst the hum of sewing machines comes a steady stream of chatter and quiet laughter. They gather at the Perry Park Country Club twice a month for conversation and companionship. While it may appear to be just another social club, the women in the room call themselves the Blanket Brigade and they are on a mission: to warm the hearts and minds of those in need.
They immediately get to work - and they work fast. Creating 300 blankets a year is no small feat. Their final creations take hours and hours to complete, before the blankets end up at their forever home.
The recipients of these creations are dealing with situations no one wants to think about: the death of a parent, a tragedy, personal conflict and more. The blankets truly become a lifeline to those in need.
“I can’t imagine actually seeing the kids with the blankets,” said member Gwen Underwood. “I think that would be really emotional.”
Where the blankets end up is often a mystery to the dedicated group of just 12 people. Although the Blanket Brigade has been around for 20 years (with the original group still operating in Monument), this group’s connection to the Douglas County School District (DCSD) happened a bit by chance two years ago.
“It was a gift that they found us,” said DCSD Crisis Team Lead Stephanie Bulawa. “The impact is huge. It is so much more than a blanket.”
“Can you tell us some stories about kids who have gotten our blankets?” asked one member when Bulawa stopped by and found the group hard at work.
Bulawa smiled and shared a few stories about those the group has so positively impacted. She doesn’t share personal details, but paints a picture of what happens when she shares a blanket with a child in need.
“They put it in their laps, they wrap themselves in it. It is so precious to them,” said Bulawa.
Her response is met by gasps of happiness and huge smiles from members of the Blanket Brigade.
This is why they do it - but how do they do it? Much of the fabric is donated by community members and the members themselves are always on the hunt for more supplies. The group is currently using fabric with holiday themes, flowers, puppies and more. Once gathered together, they lay out fabric squares to create their design. Those squares are sewn together, a border is added and the final step is tying the blanket to make sure it lasts. After all, to those who receive one of these handmade creations, it’s more than just a blanket.
“It’s unbelievably meaningful to kids,” said Bulawa. “I feel like we are taking care of one of their basic needs. They are going to be able to get to the grieving and through the grieving later on because these basic needs were met.”
For 94-year-old Eugina Smoot, it’s a simple mission.
“We are helping somebody, we hope! It makes me feel so good,” she said.
Smoot crochets small animals that are also handed out with the blankets. She joined her two daughters who were already part of the Blanket Brigade. The group is committed and the chances of anyone leaving the group are pretty much nonexistent.
“Everybody who joins it, they don’t quit. They just keep coming,” said member Ginny Sanders. “It’s just amazing!”
The Blanket Brigade also connects with those in need outside of DCSD. They recently sent a number of blankets to Hurricane Harvey victims in Texas, and they work with local hospitals and hospice centers, among others.
Sanders may have said it best: “From our hands to your heart.”
If you would like to donate to the Blanket Brigade or wish to volunteer, contact Gwen Underwood at (303) 681-2125 or gwenspur[at]mac[dot]com.