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Richards students provide comfort for young patients

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Photo by Kelly White

Natalie Casey (from left), 17, of Oak Lawn, and Amelia Dunterman, 18, of Chicago Ridge, worked together to make fleece blankets last Thursday afternoon at Richards High School for Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn.

By Kelly White

Richards High School students donated their time and their hearts to comfort those in need.

More than 25 National Honor Society students and student council members at Richards gathered together after school last Thursday at the school to create handmade blankets for patients in Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn.

“Personally, I like making the blankets because the students feel good about making something, and it’s for a good cause,” said Dorothy Groff, math teacher and NHS sponsor. “I love when students are able to create something and donate the finished project to make someone else feel better.”

The program began 10 years ago at Richards when a student’s mother who worked as a nurse at Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital started a club to make comfort blankets for pediatric patients. Groff’s students had so much fun helping out with the project, she decided to continue leading the project ever since.

The students who volunteered their time were also able to gain service hours.

“We get a chance to come together, enjoy our time together, and it’s all for a great cause,” said Jasmine Santiago, 17, of Oak Lawn. “This is my first year participating, but I will definitely be back here again next year.”

The intent of the blankets is to serve as a security blanket. The blankets help to keep children warm during any form of treatment that may take place during their hospital stay, such as chemotherapy that may make them feel cold or afraid.

“Being in the hospital is no fun. I hope these blankets give a little comfort to young children fighting a very scary disease,” Groff said.

All material for the blankets was provided by the students. They were able to pick out their own styles and fleece blanket designs. The blanket patterns, which were very colorful, also included animal patterns, cartoon characters or superheroes.

Children within the hospital will be able to pick out their own blanket from the selection.

“The students like making the blankets because they are easy to make, anyone can make them,” Groff said. “Making the blankets makes the students become aware of other young children less fortunate than they are, and with that, they realize that they can brighten their day by giving them a warm blanket to keep warm during their treatments.”

“This project brings all of us together,” said Natalie Casey, 17, of Oak Lawn.

The blankets were all handmade by cutting and tying the fleece material together in a square shape to form a blanket. They were then washed to get out all the dye out of the material so the blankets do not irritate a patient’s skin, and dried before being sealed in an airtight plastic bag to prevent any spreading of germs or airborne pathogens.

A total of 75 blankets were created. The number of blankets continues to rise each year, according to Groff.

The blankets will be delivered personally during the first week of March by Groff and a team of 15 students to the oncology department at Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital.

“This is really something wonderful to be a part of,” said Amelia Dunterman, 18, of Chicago Ridge.

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