hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

December 13, 2012

Students blanket hospital patients in warmth

By Alex Lippa

---- — On Black Friday, when many shoppers looked for the best deals on luxuries for friends, family and themselves, the community of St. Joseph’s School had a different mission when they went shopping.

Parents and teachers took advantage of the low prices to buy yarn, flannel and beach towels at stores in the area so they could make “towel-blankets” to donate to the children at the Tufts Floating Hospital for Children in Boston.

“I started it when my daughter was a patient at the hospital,” said Kelly Simard, a parent of two students at the school. “We noticed that some of the kids didn’t have either of those so we thought it would be great to make some.”

Simard invented the towel-blanket, which is a towel on one side and a fleece blanket on the other. Teri Lyons, a kindergarten teacher at the school, sews all of the towel-blankets together, while Simard is in charge of organizing the materials.

Carol Simone, the principal at St. Joseph’s, says the school aims to make 100 towel-blankets each year. Simard started it with just her family producing the towel-blankets, and when her daughters began school at St. Joseph’s, she got the entire school involved.

Over the last four years, the school has made over 400 towel blankets. Simard estimates that it costs between $10 and $15 make each towel.

Simard goes with her daughters and several kids from the school each May and personally delivers the blankets.

Each towel-blanket has a design on it such as a specific sport, animal or a hobby and the kids are able to pick out the one which is most tailored to their interests.

The hospital has shown a great appreciation for the towel-blankets as well.

Simone says that each year the hospital sends a gracious note to the school thanking them for their donation each year.

“They tell us that we couldn’t know the love and help we are bringing to these families,” said Simard. “They deal with families all over the world. It means a lot to everyone there.”