- Category: Local News
- Created on Saturday, 12 October 2013 11:29
San Diego, California - Since the spring of 2008, a group of English Ladies known as the Berkley Squares have joined forces with San Diego County employees and a several other community members to knit, crochet, quilt and sew blankets for San Diego County foster youth.
For some people it might just be a blanket, but for the foster youth removed from their family, it’s a soft, cuddly sense of security – something they can wrap around themselves and feel the love of the person who made it especially for them.
What started out as a one-year project called A Little Bit of Comfort has grown into an army of volunteers who provide every single child entering San Diego County foster care with a homemade blanket.
“We do it for the kiddiewinkles – that’s my word,” said Chris Bodle, a San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency employee and the catalyst behind the effort. Bodle grew up in England and her British side comes out when she speaks about her kiddiewinkles.
“Every single child in foster care gets a blanket now and it often becomes one of their favorite things.”
The numbers are quite staggering. Since beginning five years ago, A Little Bit of Comfort has grown to 124 volunteers who have handmade nearly 2,700 blankets. This year’s total is already at 538 as of October 1, and three of the volunteers have made more than 200 blankets apiece over the years.
“All of our volunteers are wonderful,” said Bodle. “Some of the ladies are in their 80s and they come from all walks of life.”
The youngest volunteer is 7 years old.
Bodle was cleaning out her garage one day and sorting through boxes and boxes of unused yarn when the idea of creating the blankets for foster youth came to her. She enlisted the help of her fellow Berkley Squares members. It quickly spread to County of San Diego co-workers and then to other community groups.
For years, the volunteers worked year-round creating the blankets and handing them out to foster youth during the holiday season.
But as the project has grown, so have storage issues with all those blankets. In response, the group decided to distribute the blankets all year and give one to each child who enters the foster care system.
Bodle and her co-worker Elenita Bueno now coordinate the distribution through Child Welfare Services registrars and social workers. The 13 registrars handle the paperwork for each child in foster care and send the information to Bodle and Bueno to match up with a blanket.
All blankets are coded and labeled so they know which child gets which blanket. There are no names attached, but a volunteer can find out their creation went to a 6-year-old girl for instance, and thank you letters are shared with the volunteer when they come in.
The thank you notes really show the impact of the project. They come from the foster parents, social workers and the children themselves:
“My foster daughter absolutely loves the blanket and has not put it down since she got it,” read one note.
“Thank you so much for the beautiful crocheted blanket you brought to (the foster child). She loves it; it’s definitely a sense of security for her. I know someone spent hours of work on it – please thank them too!”
“Thank you for the blanket. It helps me when I feel upset or angry. I also use it when I sleep. Thank you very much.”
The volunteers can choose to make whatever type of blanket they want and some don’t even have to make blankets to contribute. Some of them bundle and tie up the blankets for distribution.
“One lady sews in the labels,” said Bodle. “She’s sewn in more than 500 labels so far this year and she was shocked when she found it that it was that many.”
Each label reads: “Made with TLC especially for you from ‘A Little Bit of Comfort’ project.”