Volunteers at Ohio’s Hospice Loving Care did not let the COVID-19 pandemic stop them from providing patients with a warm, cozy gift at Christmas. Through perseverance and determination, they made more than 50 fleece blankets for patients in time for Christmas.
“When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade,” said Annetta Dellinger, volunteer manager at Ohio’s Hospice Loving Care, an affiliate of Ohio’s Hospice. “That’s exactly what our volunteers did when they could not give our patients the fruit baskets and cookies that we normally give at Christmas.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions on volunteer activities, the volunteers would not be able to deliver fruit baskets and cookies to patients. So, they decided they would make fleece blankets for patients.
“Fleece blankets are cozy and warm,” Dellinger said. “Our volunteers were enthusiastic about this idea, and they jumped into action.”
In the fall of 2020, a few of the volunteers went to JOANN, the fabric and craft retail store, to purchase a piece of fleece and experiment. They wanted to make sure they had the right length and width of fleece material. They calculated how many yards they would need to make more than 50 double fleece lap blankets.
They made a second trip to JOANN to buy fleece material on sale but learned that the store would have an even better sale the next day. So, they made a third trip.
“Our volunteers were excited about this project,” Dellinger said. “We felt like kids in a candy store selecting from 100 bolts of fleece.”
Some of the patterns they selected included a gray plaid for the top of the blanket with bright red for the back; whimsical dogs with a dark gray back; and red, white and blue stars with a deep blue back among other combinations.
“Getting four carts piled high to the cutting counter was challenging,” Dellinger said. “But seeing the long, long line was a shock. Everyone in the line wanted the $9.99 fleece for $2.99.”
Shoppers socially distanced with face masks on and chatted with one another. One woman asked Dellinger what they were doing with all of the fleece. When Dellinger explained that they were making fleece blankets for hospice patients, the other woman responded that she was interested in volunteering with Ohio’s Hospice Loving Care.
“We were thrilled she wanted to volunteer and help us with our project,” Dellinger said. “Despite COVID-19, we welcome new volunteers. We find ways for them to volunteer while following the appropriate social distancing and safety measures.”
Even with all of those waiting customers, Dellinger appreciated the time that a JOANN employee took to cut each piece of fleece in 1-½-yard lengths.
“JOANN and their employees deserve a major thank you,” Dellinger said. “After checking out three hours later, a manager helped me unload the fabric into my car. We held our breath, hoping that the door would close. Miraculously, the car door closed!”
Volunteers pitched in to make the blankets. Some even invited a few friends for a socially-distanced knotting party.
One volunteer had never made fleece blankets before, but she was willing to try. Once she tried it, she was hooked. She asked for more blankets to make.
Beta Psi Chapter of Sigma Alpha Sorority and Nightingale Montessori in Springfield also helped. Another volunteer sewed labels on each blanket identifying that the blankets were from Ohio’s Hospice Loving Care volunteers.
Each blanket was sanitized and placed in a clear plastic bag with rubber bands to seal it tight. Big red bows were attached to the bags. The nurses of Ohio’s Hospice Loving Care delivered the blankets to patients in Madison and Union counties when they visited them.
“We received feedback from our nurses that our patients loved the blankets,” Dellinger said. “Because of the gift of their time, our volunteers brought joy to our hospice patients. We appreciate their dedication and commitment to our mission.”
Ohio’s Hospice Loving Care is grateful to Thrivent, McCarthy & Cox and individuals who donated funds to make this possible.
Ohio’s Hospice Loving Care is an affiliate of Ohio’s Hospice. Based in London and Marysville, Ohio’s Hospice Loving Care began in 1993 as a grass-roots organization to provide hospice services to patients and their families in Union and Madison counties. It also provides home healthcare services in Madison County. The not-for-profit hospice helps patients to live with dignity, comfort and control by establishing goals for a better quality of life. The hospice team serves patients wherever the patient calls home, involving patients and family in choices and decisions.