Photo by Laura Guiido/Whidbey News-Times
                                From left, Katrina Martinez, Sherilyne Fernandez and Andrea Ruben work on a comfort blanket for Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Photo by Laura Guiido/Whidbey News-Times From left, Katrina Martinez, Sherilyne Fernandez and Andrea Ruben work on a comfort blanket for Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Blanket brigade: club seeks to comfort sick kids

Retired orthopedic surgeon Fred Wilson said he noticed during his six-month residency at Seattle Children’s Hospital some of the patients wouldn’t let doctors perform treatment without their comfort blankets on them.

That was years ago, but the hospital still tries to offer these blankets to each child being hospitalized, and Oak Harbor High School Key Club students are working to make 200 more.

“This is a first for our club,” said Lisa Bain, one of the advisers. “To do something ambitious like this … something concrete. We usually raise money, we don’t usually build something.”

Blanket making will take place 8 a.m. to about 2 p.m. Saturday, May 5 at the Oak Harbor School District offices. Community members are invited to volunteer for any amount of time.

THE CLUB’S president at the time the idea formed, Katrina Martinez, was originally trying to brainstorm a project for a fundraiser. She and member Sherilyne Fernandez got the idea for no-sew blankets at a training rally.

Key Club is sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Oak Harbor, and Martinez said the Kiwanis advisers, which include Wilson, persuaded her to use the no-sew blanket idea as a service project instead of a fundraiser.

The Kiwanis Club donated $500 toward the project and individual members donated materials like fabric and scissors. Martinez and Fernandez delivered letters to local businesses explaining the project, their need and where donations could be made. Through the Oak Harbor Kiwanis website, the students have raised over $1,000 for the project.

THE BLANKETS are put together by stacking two pieces of fabric on top of each other, cut to the hospital’s desired specifications, and cutting tassels along the edges that can be tied together.

“No true skills are required to do it,” Bain said.

This past Saturday, 19 volunteers made about 40 blankets. Today, members of the younger Kiwanis-sponsored groups, the Builders Club and K-Kids, are invited to come help make more. Another community blanket-making day will be held next Saturday, May 12.

Bain said coffee and donuts will be offered in the morning and pizza for lunch.

CLUB MEMBER Andrea Ruben manages the production side of the project. She said it takes about 30 minutes to make one blanket with two or three people working on it at once. She and some other members also take home the materials or work on them during their free time at school.

The students hope to reach their goal of 200 before May 15 — about the time AP tests and finals begin at school.

Martinez said she was nervous that people wouldn’t participate or donate and the club wouldn’t be able to fulfill its promise.

“I think it’s going way better than I imagined it would,” she said. “When I was first trying to get this project even started and together, I was actually having a stressful and hard time trying to reach out to people to get this going. But now it looks like it’s up and running and people are wanting to help, so that makes me pretty happy to see.”

• Donations to the project can be made at www.oakharborkiwanis.org on the “Service Projects” page.

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