In 2012, Amanda Freese, a music teacher at Francis Marion Intermediate School, visited a family member in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. She ended up spending the night in the cold waiting room, which inspired her to reach out to Carolyn Munson, former science teacher at Vernon Middle School, to arrange an event where the students would make fleece blankets for families staying in the hospital.
“We teach the students a philosophy based on the book ‘Gifts of the Heart’ by Karen Oman,” Munson said. “We’re giving out blankets, and we’re giving from our heart.”
Once a year, the middle school has a day of service to make the blankets. The event takes up half of the school day, and four to six people per blanket are assigned to tying blanket fabrics together.
For the last five years, the blankets were given to patients in the Surgical and Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit.
“The kids love it. We have a fantastic day,” Munson said. “They get really excited when they are able to bring in fleece donations.”
Marion High School joined in the fun in 2013, increasing the number of blankets donated by 11.
Munson explained that she drives about an hour from Marion to Iowa City, which she doesn’t mind, since she says the advanced treatments in special areas provided at UI Hospitals and Clinics is seldom found in other areas of Iowa. Therefore, patients come from all over the state, resulting in several families staying overnight in the waiting rooms.
Despite being retired for three years, Munson keeps the tradition going. On June 20 this year, Munson, her husband, and Sue Witte, coordinator of Family Support Program at UI Hospital and Clinics, dropped off 43 blankets—for a combined total of 370 blankets over six years.
Out of the total 370 blankets, 280 were made at Vernon Middle school, and 90 were made by students at Marion High School and Francis Intermediate School.
The staff and patients always seem grateful to receive their annual donation. “The nurses that pick them up are always so excited and appreciative,” Munson says. “They jump up and down skipping, ‘The blankets are coming! They’re here!’”
Thanks to generous donations like these, we’re well-stocked on blankets—we appreciate everyone who gives! Find out other ways to give: