by Deb L.
Sometimes homemade blankets warm not only the body, but the heart.
|We were all shocked and saddened to hear about the devastation created by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. I wanted to do something, but living in southeastern PA, I wasn't sure what I could do. A friend of mine heard about an organization and she thought I'd like to help them.
It was an organization that wanted to see that children who lost everything had something as simple as a blanket to cuddle up with. They asked that you crochet or knit 6" x 9" rectangles and send them in. They would pick a couple from each mailing and stitch them together. Choosing 40 rectangles per blanket, they would then enclose a note saying that 20 people - complete strangers - had lovingly worked on each blanket.
My heart went out to those children and since I knew how to crochet, I raided my yarn stash and started crocheting. As I told my curious co-workers what I was doing, I was suddenly getting donations of yarn to make more rectangles!
Since I worked full time, it took me a while to finish the amount of rectangles I wanted. So, when I was happy with the amount I had finished, I packaged them up and sent them off, knowing that my handiwork was going to help keep a child warm. It made me feel like I was doing something.
I went back to making more rectangles. I finished several more and decided to contact the organization to make sure they were still accepting them. I tried to get on their website, but it had been taken down. I tried the phone number, but it had been disconnected. I did a search online, but found nothing. Since the organization stitched the rectangles together and they sent the blankets to the kids, I had no idea where to send a blanket. So, I put the rectangles in a bag and threw it in my closet. Maybe one day I would make my own patchwork blanket.
When I would clean the closet, there was the bag just sitting there. I thought about throwing them away, but I had worked so hard on them, I didn't have the heart to do that. So, there they sat, in the closet with my other craft supplies.
Fast forward to May 2009. I went to work on a Friday and a co-worker told me that Bobbie, another co-worker had lost her home the day before in a devastating fire. The house was just about a total loss and almost nothing could be salvaged. Nobody was home at the time, but their beloved dog and cat both perished in the home from smoke inhalation. We were all shocked and some cried as they heard the news. We immediately took up a monetary collection for Bobbie and her family.
Later that day, I was in the lunch room making a blanket for another co-worker. Someone came in the lunchroom and told me that I now had a new project - making blankets for Bobbie's children. Then it hit me. I had made them both baby blankets while Bobbie was pregnant, and cross stitch samplers announcing their births. Since almost nothing in the house could be salvaged, I knew the blankets and samplers were gone. I held back tears. Not for me; but for Bobbie. She said she looked at those samplers every day when she went in the kids rooms. And for the kids who no longer had homemade blankets to snuggle with. Suddenly, as if a bolt of lightning had struck me, a thought popped in my head. Did I still have those rectangles I was making for the kids of Katrina? Had I thrown them away?
I got home from work and dropped my purse and keys. I ran over to where I kept my craft supplies. I grabbed a bag and looked inside. Not it. I tossed it aside. I grabbed another bag. Not it. Oh no! Had I thrown them away? I saw another bag under some other supplies. I grabbed it. There was something handwritten on the outside of the bag. Could this be it? I turned the bag around and flattened it out so I could read it. In black letters was written, "Katrina's Kids". I let out a shriek and looked inside. There they were, about a dozen rectangles, all ready to be made into blanket.
I brought some of the rectangles and some yarn to work and started crocheting. Everybody said how sweet I was to want to replace the blankets. Then Bobbie came to lunch one day and saw me crocheting. She asked me if I was making wash cloths. I said no, and told her what I was doing. Her eyes got misty and she said that I didn't have to do that. I looked her right in the eyes and told her that I wanted to.
I made 50 rectangles - 25 for each and finished both blankets. I finished the one for Bobbie's daughter first. Putting it in a gift bag, I took it to work to give to Bobbie. She jumped up when she saw the gift bag. She asked could she take it out of the bag and of course I said yes! She carefully took it out and unfolded it. She got tears in her eyes as she looked at all the pastel colors. She said that her daughter would LOVE it. In the car that night, she handed her daughter the bag, saying it was a present from Miss Deb...a lady she worked with. Her daughter's eyes got big as she took the bag and looked inside. She took the blanket out and squealed with delight! She hugged it, saying it was HER blankie!
About a week later, I finished the blanket for Bobbie's son. Again, I put it in a gift bag and took it to work. Bobbie took it out of the bag and looked at all the bright, primary colors. She said her son just LOVED bright colors and he was sure to love the blanket. Just as with her daughter, she handed the bag to her son in the car. His eyes got big as he asked if it was from Miss Deb. Bobbie said yes and he dove into the bag. His eyes lit up and he proceeded to tell Bobbie every color I had used!
A couple days later at work, I got a call from the receptionist that there was something at the front desk for me. I expected it was the mail, but when I got up there, I had a huge surprise waiting for me! There was a beautiful bouquet of flowers! I read the card. It was from Bobbie and her family thanking me for the blankets. I held back tears as I read the heartfelt words of appreciation.
A week later, Bobbie told me that the previous night the kids were getting ready to watch a movie. They always wrap up in a blanket, so Bobbie told them to go up and grab one. She never suggested which of their blankets to bring down. They have a few store bought ones and then the ones I made them. She said she heard them come down from their rooms and turned to see which ones they had brought. She smiled brightly as she saw which ones they had each individually chosen...the ones I had made them! She leaned over to her husband and said couldn't wait until the next day so she could tell me!
I also replaced both cross stitch samplers! I recreated the exact same samplers that I had originally made. Bobbie cried the day I gave them to her and told me that I was amazing! Gets me all warm and fuzzy when I think about it!