Did you know that every year the Connections Volunteer Center designs a project to highlight senior citizens and their impact on our community called Seniors Helping Impact Neighbors Everywhere or SHINE? This year we made blankets to benefit two worthwhile organizations serving Delaware County—Nationwide Children’s Hospital and My Very Own Blanket—with the goal of making 100 blankets total to donate. The seniors beat this goal by making a total of 140 blankets to brighten the lives of children going through a traumatic time.
In past years the project has served the LSS Food Pantry, the Common Ground Free Store, FEED Food Pantry and SHARE; a local program serving the homeless of Delaware County.
“The annual event gives our local seniors a day to highlight the thousands of hours they give with a meaningful project,” Connections Program Director Suzanne Pingry explained, “without seniors the scope and reach of many local non-profits would be significantly reduced.”
According to the Volunteering and Civic Life in America report by the Corporation for National Community Service (CNCS), more than 20.7 million older adults contribute over 3.3 billion hours of service in their communities annually. Furthermore, the economic impact of this service is valued at $75 billion dollars. In Delaware County the food pantries depend heavily on retirees, and organizations like Common Ground Free Store and SourcePoint credit seniors with their founding.
Since its start in 1999, My Very Own Blanket has donated over 65,000 blankets to children in the foster care system in Ohio and surrounding states. Feedback from recipients is all the fuel this non-profit based in Westerville, Ohio needs to keep going. Children removed from homes are given a blanket and pillow or stuffed animal to comfort them. As adults, many remember receiving this gift and treasure them for the rest of their lives. One recipient wrote the slogan for the organization, “Make a difference for a child in foster care by giving H.O.P.E.! (Hold. On. Pain. Ends.)”
Nationwide Children’s Hospital is known nationally for its quality of care and innovation in treating children of all ages. Families throughout Delaware County rely on them when they are dealing with the stress and trauma that can accompany a diagnosis and treatment. According to hospital staff, the blankets are used throughout the hospital both inpatient and outpatient by their Child Life Specialists as a source of comfort and to make the hospital bed seem more like home. Having something handmade makes the families feel that they are cared for and not alone.
The women of the Powell United Methodist Church made blankets throughout 2015 and donated half of those made to this effort. The results were beautiful quilts, crocheted throws and fleece blankets of all sizes and patterns. Londontown, Oakhurst Place and Riverside Landings senior housing communities kicked off their blanket making effort on Make a Difference Day and worked faithfully through December to ensure the group goal of 100 blankets would be achieved. Some of those involved lacked transportation and were especially thrilled to give back in this way as well as have a time set aside to socialize. The seniors of Oakhurst Place even had a ‘tailgate’ potluck where everyone gathered to make blankets and cheer on the Buckeyes. As patterns were chosen with care the participants talked excitedly about who might get them.