Volunteers Warm Hearts and Minds
MADE WITH LOVE OFFERS COMFORT, PROMOTES READING
BY RUTH FLYNN
For The Island Connection
Eight hundred nineteen ﬂeece blankets and 592 pillows! That’s what the volunteers with Made With Love (MWL), a Kiawah Cares Foundation project, created and donated to local children and seniors in the last 12 months. The group uses donated fabric, toiletries and their own creative talents to provide comfort to residents on Johns and Wadmalaw islands.
The project isn’t just about keeping kids warm, it’s also about helping them enjoy curling up with a good book. The handmade crafts, supplied to three local Title 1 elementary schools, are used by teachers to help children associate reading with being cozy and comfortable. Improving reading competency makes a critical difference in the future of any child, but especially those with fewer resources at home. Island schools are a particular focus for the group. The blankets and fabric animals created by MWL are often used to help calm children while they talk through issues with school counselors.
In addition to blankets, the group assembles toiletry kits for residents at Johns Island Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center, Respite Care Charleston, Meals on Wheels, and new mothers and babies served by Our Lady of Mercy church. That’s not all: blankets and toys are donated to animal rescue groups, while pocketed pillows, with a new book tucked inside, celebrate reading achievement awards.
For Mother’s Day, the group supplies winter scarves, fabric totes and purses, and other gift items to be used at school “stores.” In order to “purchase” a gift, a child makes a greeting card that’s given to an island senior citizen.The response to these simple gifts can be very moving.
On Veteran’s Day, a MWL volunteer, himself a veteran, presented each of the veterans at a local rehabilitation center with a handmade patriotic blanket and a salute. One elderly man, a WWII veteran conﬁned to a wheelchair, shakily rose from his wheelchair for the first time in 6 months and, using his left hand to support his right arm, returned the salute. No sewing talent is needed for most projects: just a desire to help others and be part of a cooperative effort. The group gathers every Friday morning at Beachwalker Center for Fleece Friday and the resulting camaraderie is part of the draw.
To ﬁnd out more about Made with Love or to donate ﬂeece or cotton fabric, new sample-size toiletries or cash for projects, contact KiawahCares@kica.us.