Blanketeers look to provide comfort year round

By: 
JENNA GILBERT
Staff Writer

Every month, the residents at Elmwood Assisted Living in New Bremen get the chance to sit down for an hour and aid in the making of something that benefits those outside of the facility.
With the help of Emilie Britton they finish off blankets that she prepares which are then given to those who need some comfort. Britton, leader of the Blanketeers group based in New Bremen, has been bringing the project to Elmwood since May 2018, not too long after she took over.
She took charge in January 2018 after the two ladies who started Blanketeers made the decision to back away to focus on other projects and family matters. The other members in the group didn’t want the Blanketeers to completely go away and they convinced Britton to take over. And since then, she says it has done nothing but give her life more purpose.
Not just her life, but also the residents at Elmwood too.
Marge Luedeke, program coordinator at Elmwood, said many of the residents look forward to the monthly meeting with Britton and getting the opportunity to help with the blankets, even if it is just tying knots in the fabric.
“For some of them that is very much something they look forward to,” Luedeke said. “There’s never people who don’t want to come down. It’s usually quite full when she comes and they plan on it. So they are disappointed when the weather changes.”
She added that around 10 to 15 residents will come help Britton with the blankets and Britton mentioned that she enjoys being able to visit with them and get to know them on a personal level.
The blankets they make together are fleece pieces that are 2 yards long that Britton prepares for the residents. She cuts strips into the blankets for the residents to tie together to give a fringe look and, with the crowd she gathers, they can get around 14 to 15 blankets completed in the hour they are together.
Britton said that this last holiday season, she and the rest of the Blanketeers donated 115 blankets specifically for those who were spending time at Joint Township District Memorial Hospital on Dec. 24 or Dec. 25. They called it Operation Santa Claus and the blankets were for anyone who spent time either in urgent care, the emergency room or had to stay overnight.
That 115 is a small number compared to the total number they provided for all if 2018. She said they made and donated 894 blankets total in her first year in charge — and that’s not including the first few months. And it is looking to be another good start this year as well, she said.
Recently, she said the Blanketeers donated 110 blankets to the cancer center in Troy. She said it’s important to donate year round because everyone gets donations in November and December because of the holidays. But, for her, it’s important to remember that people are diagnosed with cancer year round, and the Blanketeers want to provide them, and others, with comfort as well.
Fleece blankets aren’t the only style of blankets the Blanketeers craft.
“The ladies that work on these blankets at home … they crochet around the edge,” she said. “There’s a special blade that they get for their rotary cutter that will poke holes around the fleece and then they crochet an edging around it.”
She added that a few ladies crochet whole blankets to be donated. Those blankets are then taken to several places in the area to help those who might need a blanket to make them feel more comfortable. Places like the Auglaize County Crisis Center, Job and Family Services in Mercer and Auglaize counties, the cancer centers in Troy and Greenville, JTDMH and many others in the surrounding area and counties.
It’s important to keep their blankets local, Britton added, because as much as she wants to help those in places like Dayton, she said there are already people helping down there, but there aren’t always people to help locally.
On occasion they will receive “thank you” notes from those who receive their blankets, and one touch they add is they put a tag on the blankets saying who made it.
“That gives the ladies some sense of accomplishment as well,” Britton said. “And the one that is receiving the blanket, they know that someone took the time and they really do care.”
The next step for the Blanketeers, and for Britton, is to try and figure out some fundraising efforts. She mentioned that they buy all of their own materials to make the blankets and she’s hoping to find a way to lift some of the financial burden off of volunteers, even though she knows they don’t mind.
She added that with donating to Agape, the organization has helped with pulling yarn for them, but that donation isn’t frequent.
As for those who want to get involved, or want to be eyes and ears for the club for people and places that could use a comforting blanket, she said anyone can email her at emiliebritton@yahoo.com or ask to join their facebook page by searching “Blanketeers.” The group also holds monthly meetings at the New Bremen Coffee Co. & Books.
Those meetings are from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. every second Thursday of the month. Everyone is welcome to stop by and see what they are making and learn more about what they do.

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