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Blankets for Babies
‘Warming a baby's heart right from the start'
“Warming a baby’s heart right from the start” — the motto for ‘Blankets for Babies’ — is what Porterville residents Melanie Flores and Rebecca Underwood set out to accomplish with the creation of their project. And that is exactly what they are doing.
On Friday, the two ladies and a couple of other helpers delivered more than 200 soft, cuddly baby blankets of all colors and textures to Children’s Hospital Central California in Madera.
“Our initial goal was to make 100 blankets,” Underwood said. “We reached that goal in three or four weeks and had to change our goal. Our new goal is 1,000 blankets by the end of the year.”
The blankets are all sizes and intended for all of the hospital’s patients, from premature babies to teenagers.
The nonprofit Blankets for Babies organization was started two months ago Sunday by Flores, with help from Underwood, her sister in law.
“Melanie started it and asked me to help,” Underwood said. “She’s had two children in the hospital as patients and this is her way of giving back.”
Underwood said they started a facebook social network page and created a website.
And once the word got out, the project exploded — surpassing all expectations as people from the community, Valley, state, and throughout the United States offered to help.
“Boom! It exploded and in less than two months, we have more than 200 blankets,” Underwood said.
Community outpouring has been amazing, Underwood said.
One of those helping has been Goldie Quinn, who not only handmade numerous baby blankets — five tie-blankets, two crochet ones and 10 sewn ones — but also got her church youth group from Grace Bible Fellowship of Strathmore to make some.
“One of the goals is to make sure that every single baby has a homemade blanket,” Quinn said. “The blanket is theirs forever. It’s used to drape the isolette until they are well enough to have it placed on them. They can’t in the isolette because of all the wires and tubes. Once the baby goes home, the blanket goes home with them.”
The support has also spread to schools. One Alta Vista Elementary teacher used the blankets as a class project.
“An approximate 16 girls from made blankets on [Wednesday] and the boys are making theirs [Thursday,]” Quinn said. “We are also getting help from the Kiwanis Club, and a lot of people are calling us to donate materials, yarn and baby blankets that they are making.”
Donations and offers to help have been offered from Washington, Idaho and Kansas, as well as from Fresno, Hanford, Camp Nelson and Bakersfield.
“They are making not only blankets, but some of them are making [baby] booties,” Underwood said. “We are humbled and amazed.”
Quinn said she is proud of the community.
“These people are taking time out of their life to make a blanket for a baby that they will never meet,” Quinn said. “That says so much about them.”
Quinn and Underwood also said mothers of the tiny patients have been sharing touching stories. They also want to help. One mother with premature twins at Children’s Hospital said she wants to help make the blankets as soon as her babies are home, Quinn said. Another mother willing to help lost a child to cancer. The stories have encouraged the group to keep going.
The blankets, once delivered, are sterilized by the hospital, Underwood said.
Anyone desiring to help can do so by helping the group make baby blankets, or by donating new blanket materials, yarn, fabric-shop gift cards, and gasoline gift cards — to help pay for the gasoline for deliveries to Children’s Hospital in Madera. Monetary contributions can not be collected.
In addition, Underwood said, a ‘Meet and Greet’ is being held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today at First Christian Church, 1020 N. Prospect St.
“The church is sponsoring all of our activities,” Underwood said. “People can come and learn to make tie blankets. We’ll have a lot of material there, already cut, and we’ll be demonstrating how to make them. It’s a great time for everyone to get together. We plan on having snacks and refreshments.”
The event will also serve as a baby blanket drop off site. In addition, there will be coloring pages for children.
For more information, call Rebecca Underwood at 853-7658.
Contact Esther Avila at 784-5000, Ext. 1045. Follow her on Twitter @Avila_recorder.