Throw blankets presented to foster children

MARIETTA – Being separated from their families, even for a short time, can be frightening for children entering foster care.

But receiving a colorful fleece blanket can help make that experience a little less difficult.

“Kids in foster care often have security issues, and giving them a blanket provides something they can cling to. It can be a tremendous help during this time,” said Yvonne Garvey, protection case worker for Washington County Children’s Services.

Thanks to a collaboration that includes children’s services, the local Cribs to College branch of the Ohio Child Conservation League, the Washington County Career Center, and residents of Hannah’s House assisted living facility, 82 fleece throws will help comfort area children this year.

The blankets were presented to Garvey following an appreciation dinner at Hannah’s House Tuesday evening.

“We’ll use all of them,” Garvey said. “And I always keep at least two of them in my car; you never know when you’ll meet a child who needs it.”

Fleece for the throws comes from the Ohio Child Conservation League whose members deliver the material to Hannah’s House in September or October where residents, often assisted by nursing students from the Washington County Career Center, tie fringes around the edges of the blankets.

“They start working on the throws in September every year and usually finish them by February to give to children’s services,” said Verna Perrin, owner of Hannah’s House.

She said Tuesday’s dinner and presentation were to thank everyone involved in the project that has become an annual event for the last 11 years.

“We try to raise the bar a little every year, too,” Perrin said. “Last year we had 75 blankets tied, and this year we had 82.”

Hannah’s House resident Ruth Weber, 87, tied 52 of the blankets this year, exceeding the 50 she tied last year.

“I just like to keep busy,” she said. “It takes about 45 minutes to do the ties on one blanket. I did five one afternoon.”

Weber said the number of ties depends on the size of the blanket, and some larger throws may take up to 200 ties to complete.

Ally Rohrer, a Waterford High School senior, was among Washington County Career Center medical college program students who helped residents with the blanket ties.

“I was doing it as a service project with two or three others,” she said. “We cut the fleece blankets so the residents could put ties on them. It was fun, and they appreciated our help.”

Medical college program instructor Karolyn Schafer said the effort was among three community service projects for the 17 seniors in her class.

“It’s part of their learning experience to learn how to give to others,” she said. “And this is the first time I’ve had them do this as a service project.”

Anita Francisco, president of the local Cribs to College branch of the Ohio Child Conservation League, said the project is a great example of how community groups can work together to benefit children.

“It’s important work,” she said. “Children’s services works to help children that may have to be taken out of their homes, and they may not have much when they enter foster care. So this program gives them something they can hold on to.”