Feelin’ the Warmth

Posted on 09 December 2009 by Victoria Caswell

Cut. Snip. Tie.

One day a year, students gather to make blankets to keep the less fortunate warm during the cold winter months. They have realized many children huddle for warmth to try to escape the harsh winters at shelters across Milwaukee. In a city where wind chills make the temperature seem well below zero, and babies and children shiver in the cold, blankets are accepted into welcome arms.

Feel the Warmth is an independent event sponsored by Midnight Run and Campus Ministry. One day a year, students gather together to make fleece tie blankets to donate to charity. Last year the event raised nearly
$3,000 and 80 students participated, tying more than 150 blankets.

Rachel Longawa, a junior in the College of Health Sciences, started Feel the Warmth at her high school. When she came to Marquette, she told her friends Cindy Park and Andrew Sinclair about it. After some brainstorming, the trio decided to create the event on campus.

“I think this event is great because these blankets are truly needed,” Longawa said. “ Everyone likes to have a warm blanket around during the winter in Milwaukee, especially for his or her child. It’s also a great event that brings a lot of people together to work towards something special.”

Cindy Park, a junior in the College of Business, said she became involved with Feel the Warmth when she lived with Longawa. She said she was blown away by the idea, and she would like it to be a program that continues
long after they graduate. She said it has helped her to realize all that she has. “We all take for granted the amenities we are able to have as Marquette students,” she said. “We don’t think about something as simple as a blanket.” Longawa said the event was successful last year, but had humble beginnings.

“Right now we have an E-board with three people: Andy Sinclair, Cindy Park and myself,” she said.
This year, there are plans to make the event bigger.

The blankets made this year are for babies and children, she said. The blankets are going to be donated to expecting mothers through Milwaukee Pregnancy Help Center and to infants and children who are in the Pediatric Special Care Unit at Milwaukee’s Center for Independence.

The Milwaukee Pregnancy Help Center uses the blankets in a care package they give to women near their due date. The Milwaukee Center for Independence uses the blankets in the medical unit where low-income families bring their children who are in need of constant care. Since the center is run off of government funds, they need as many supplies as possible donated. “Many of the families who use both centers have a very low income,” Longawa said.

The group hopes to make more than 200 blankets at Feel the Warmth in January, 50 blankets more than last year. Since the last event was held on the Friday before finals in an attempt to capture the Christmas spirit, the group is expecting more people at its new date in January. The groups hopes to attract at least 200 students to this year’s event, spreading the word on Facebook and by word-of-mouth. It doesn’t take much to make a blanket, but Longawa said Feel the Warmth needs all the manpower they can get. They also take donations, which the group uses to buy fleece and scissors.

“In order to make baby blankets, you need two pieces of one yard fleece,” Longawa said.

“You place the pieces on top of each other, cut strips along the entire perimeter, and tie the two pieces together. It doesn’t take very long when you have four people working on one blanket.”
According to Park, it only takes five minutes to make a blanket with four people working on it.
Longawa says they’re planning more fundraising events for next semester.

“We have a chili night planned for Thursday, January 21 that will help raise more funds. There will also be a t-shirt sale and an event at Qdoba.

The big event, blanket-making day, will be next semester on January 30 at 1:00 p.m. in the AMU.”
Park adds that if students donate just five minutes of their time, they can make one blanket to contribute. She said it’s fun to get together with other students to help make a difference. Audrey Wayne, a sophomore in the College of Communication, said she went to Feel the Warmth last year because she heard it was a good program.

“It was a great opportunity and you can take as much time as you want to keep people warm during the holiday season,” she said. “I had a lot of fun, it was a nice, relaxed atmosphere and it was nice to meet other people who like to help out.”

by Victoria Caswell
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