“We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily difference we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.”— Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund.
Janet Shively of Coventry Township and her small but dedicated coterie of volunteers will never know what a powerful impact their kindnesses have on the lives of children dealing with trauma.
It’s not necessary.
All that the women say they need to know is that they’re doing God’s work, helping to heal the hearts of hurting children.
She and Akron’s Everyl “Ev” Wolfe and Wilma Hardman gathered this week for what they affectionately call “Blanket Day.”
It’s a small assembly line of sorts, operated out of Janet’s basement, designed to turn out a huge effort. The women make scores of blankets at a time out of brightly colored, kid-friendly fleece.
Their noble goal during this sewing blitz? To produce as many blankets as possible to place in Summit County sheriff’s cruisers, so deputies always have them on hand to comfort a child who has to be extracted from a place of harm, such as an accident, fire or domestic violence situation. Sgt. Mike Walsh coordinates and oversees this effort for the sheriff’s office.
The need is huge. Janet Shively and company have encouraged women’s groups in other communities to do the same for their police departments. So far, women in Mogadore, Springfield and Medina are on board.
On this day, Ev and Wilma were positioned around a giant table, spreading out and cutting fleece and pinning it to a solid backing. Waiting in an adjoining room was Janet, ready for their handoff. She finished the blankets with a specialized machine called a serger, which creates a smooth and professional edging.
These volunteers also make the blankets, matching scarves and mittens for the seriously ill children and those with military parents serving in harm’s way who are treated to a ride on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s holiday train, the Polar Express. That project is coordinated by retired Akron police Sgt. Tom Dye.
Others who traditionally help with the blanket-making but were missing in action this day are Ellen Dimoff, Mary Stenger and Cindy Gran. Mitten-makers are Pat Janero, Tracy Dardenne and People Serving People.
The volunteer seamstresses are always on the lookout for sales and are in need of monetary donations. The fleece costs anywhere from $18 to $25 a yard, before coupons.
The women estimate they have supplied hundreds of blankets to the sheriff’s office for the cruisers since 2005, the first year of the project. They produce another 80 or so annually for the special Polar Express run.
Interested in helping provide comfort blankets to children at critical times? Please email email@example.com.
Stamp Out Hunger
Here’s a chance for everyone to “Stamp Out Hunger” by participating in the National Association of Letter Carriers and Branch No. 148 Carriers’ upcoming campaign.
The carriers will be collecting nonperishable food items May 11 for distribution to the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank. Place a food donation beside your mailbox that morning, and your letter carrier will do the rest.
Questions or large donations? Please call NALC branch No. 148 Union Hall at 330-535-4500.
Swim for Diabetes
Volunteers with the Diabetes Partnership of Cleveland would like to see as many folks as possible make a huge splash in the 28th annual “Swim for Diabetes” Friday through April 28, supporting the one out of eight people in Northeast Ohio who have diabetes.
To register or for more information, please visit www.diabetespartnership.org or call 216-591-0800.
Here’s the schedule for Summit County:
• Hudson — Life Center Plus, 5133 Darrow Road, 6 to 9 p.m. Friday.
• Akron — University of Akron’s Ocasek Natatorium, 382 Carroll St., noon to 3 p.m. Saturday.
• Cuyahoga Falls — Natatorium, 2345 Fourth St., 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 28.
• Twinsburg — Twinsburg Fitness Center, 10075 Ravenna Road, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, and 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 28.
Sounds and Tastes of Soul
The LeBron James Grandmothers’ Fan Club is seeking local musicians and caterers to participate in its annual “Sounds and Tastes of Soul” event, 4 to 7 p.m. May 25 at Akron’s Helen Arnold Community Learning Center.
Blondes vs. Brunettes
The Greater East Ohio Alzheimer’s Association is sponsoring a “Blondes vs. Brunettes Flag Football Fundraiser” and is recruiting players and coaches.
The game is scheduled for 1 p.m. June 1, with pregame at noon, at the University of Akron’s Stile Athletics Field House.
“Two participating teams [females only] are coached [males and females] and divided based on the age-old rivalry between blondes and brunettes,” writes Cindy Baker, community development coordinator of the association.
“Note: Redheads are ‘free agents,’ permitted to play for the team of their choice.”
Proceeds from the game benefit the care, support, advocacy and research of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or firstname.lastname@example.org