Marymount Students Blanket Crisis Center With Love

Madelyn Kellen was hoping the third year would be the charm and that at least 100 volunteers would show up at Bernie’s Café on the Marymount University campus to help make fleece-tie blankets for a local crisis pregnancy center.

Nearly twice that many – 185 people – turned out for the holiday service party she organized. They made 268 blankets and raised $1,500 for HOPE in Northern Virginia, Inc., a nonprofit that offers pregnancy counseling and assistance. The now campus-wide event began two years ago with Kellen and 10 friends making 21 blankets.

“When we started this, I had no idea it would grow as it did,” said Kellen, a junior resident assistant majoring in hospitality management. “I’m very grateful for everyone who participated and helped out.”

The event, sponsored by the Office of Campus and Residential Services, has grown so much that Kellen has had people say, “Hey, you’re the blanket girl!” when they meet her on campus.

“It’s nice to be known for something that’s so positive,” the Ashburn native said. “We had people back who participated last year and expect to grow even more next year. It’s become a legacy for the school and something that brings the campus community together.”

She said it was a perfect event to be held on the First Friday of December, following the university’s annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

Kimberly Dodds, executive director of HOPE in Northern Virginia, said the blankets mean a lot to its clients.

“When they have their babies, we try to give them nice things that they’re proud to bring home,” said Dodds. “These beautiful, handmade blankets are made with love and mean so much to them.”    The nonprofit, staffed with only two part-time employees, relies on volunteers and is supported entirely by donations. It helps clients until their babies turn two.

“We give them diapers, wipes, clothing, help them financially – anything they need,” Dodds said.

In addition to the annual blanket donations, Marymount students aid the organization in other ways, giving gifts during the holidays, collecting financial donations, organizing its garage, and volunteering to translate or babysit for parents during classes on child birthing or using baby seats.

“Marymount has been wonderful,” Dodds said. “We really appreciate all their help and support.”

In addition to Kellen, other Marymount resident assistants who participated in the Dec. 4 Holiday Service Party were Katie Sheer, Julianna Jaime, Jen Carter, Katherine Hellmann, Maggie Campbell, Cat Schlichting, Becca Bateman, Melissa Katella, Robert Hoffmann, Rosie O’Connor, Elizabeth McCarty and Monique Casimiro.

Participating organizations providing volunteers included St. Ambrose Honor Society, the Student-Athletic Advisory Committee, Respect Life Club, Yarn Club and the Film Club. The Honors Program and SGA donated funds.

Picture captions

Photo 1:
For the third year in a row, students at Marymount University made baby blankets for HOPE in Northern Virginia, a nonprofit that offers pregnancy counseling and assistance.

Photo 2:
The holiday service party drew 185 volunteers, who made 268 blankets for HOPE in Northern Virginia, Inc., a nonprofit that offers pregnancy counseling and assistance. The now campus-wide event began two years ago with 11 friends making 21 blankets.

Photo 3:
Sydney Stryker and Julianna Jaime at work making baby blankets.

Photo 4:
Marymount resident assistants Becca Bateman and Maddy Kellen stand in front of the fabric used to make baby blankets at the holiday service party on Dec. 4.