Twelve-year-old Olivia is on a mission to wrap the world in love. After a hospitalization introduced her to the comforting power of a really great blanket, Olivia created the Warm Blanket Hugs Foundation – which makes and distributes blankets to absolutely anyone in need of a good cuddle.
Olivia’s wonderful mother, Wendy, has kindly offered to tell us a bit more about how Warm Blanket Hugs is spreading hope, healing, and a whole lotta fleece:
What is the driving force for Warm Blanket Hugs?
There is nothing better than curling up with a warm blanket; they provide comfort and security, things people don’t always have the opportunity to enjoy during certain situations. In 2009, Olivia was hospitalized during her diagnosis with epilepsy. She received a homemade blanket that was warm, fuzzy, and she snuggled with it constantly. Olivia wanted (and wants) others to feel the comfort of a blanket, as well, so she created Warm Blanket Hugs as a way for people to share homemade and store-bought blankets with people of all ages in need all over the world. Our driving force is that even though we are going through hard times dealing with epilepsy, we want to turn that into something good in the world.
Olivia is the driving force behind the organization. She comes up with great ideas on how to promote the organization and how to share blankets. Olivia wants to share with others how easy it is to share a blanket and the difference it can make. Olivia is a great role model for other preteens and teens because she is showing how easy one little thing can make such a big impact in their community.
Are the blankets specifically for seizure patients?
Warm Blanket Hugs are for anyone in need of comfort while going through tough times. We provide blankets for people of all ages, as well as animals in pet shelters. People go through so many different difficult situations and a hug from a blanket can provide comfort.
Tell us about your blanket events.
Anyone can host a blanket-making event. When you host a blanket-making event, you ask your guests to bring fleece (you can find size amounts on our website). The guests cut and tie the blankets while enjoying friendship and fellowship. We’ve had volunteers host blanket-making events where up to 12 blankets have been made! The blankets can be donated to Warm Blanket Hugs or to another place of their choice.
Olivia and I are the main volunteers for Warm Blanket Hugs, but the organization highly relies on outside volunteers to make blankets. Olivia is the heart and soul of the organization and attends most events to help out showing how to make blankets.
If someone would like to host a blanket making event, we can also provide fleece. Reach out to us via email for more information.
Do you have any stories that you’d like to share from one of your blanket events?
We often don’t hear from blanket recipients due to the situations most are in; however, now and then we hear heartwarming stories from both recipients and those volunteers that give. For example, Chrissy O. from Denver made blankets and went to donate them at a local hospital, this is her story:
The Children’s Hospital in Denver received two warm blanket hugs tonight! I have to share this story. As I walked into the hospital, I expected to see a main front desk where I could simply drop off the blankets. I saw no such desk. So I proceeded to the elevators and tried 6 different floors. All reception desks were empty with a sign saying they’ll return shortly. I suppose it was dinner time, after all. So on the last floor, I finally found a receptionist to share Olivia’s story and passion. After hearing of Olivia’s own epilepsy, she stops me. Receptionist: You do know you’re in the epilepsy section of the hospital, right? Me: I am?!?! Receptionist: Yes! I already have a 10-year-old girl in mind for one of your blankets. She’s been here for so long. She’s going to love this! All by chance, with the help of a lot of receptionists away from their desks, Olivia’s blanket project has reached a 10-year-old girl currently living in the hospital because of epilepsy. Olivia, that girl is smiling tonight. All because of you!
What are you most proud of related to Warm Blanket Hugs?
I am most proud of my 12-year-old daughter and how far she’s come. She is thriving with Epilepsy and showing others that you can do big things when going through difficult times, and at any age. Olivia has helped coordinate the sharing of 800 blankets and, by the end of the 2019, this total will be closer to 1,000.
[Quick note from Amanda: Olivia received the Prudential Spirit of Community Award in 2019 for her efforts with Warm Blanket Hugs. She also received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award for the number of hours she has volunteered, as well!]
How can North Dakotans help Warm Blanket Hugs?
There are many ways for people to help Warm Blanket Hugs:
- Donate funds: Paypal (Wendy@WarmBlanketHugs.com), credit cards (https://donorbox.org/warm-blanket-hugs) or we accept checks/cash.
- Donate blankets (store-bought or handmade) and/or fleece to Warm Blanket Hugs.
- Donate blankets to someone in need of comfort in their area. There are many places that are in need of blankets (you can find a list of options on our website).
- Donate time by making blankets.
- Pray for our organization and/or the recipients that receive blankets and are going through hard times.
No matter what your talents are, you can help Warm Blanket Hugs. Whether it’s spreading the word to making blankets, making blankets or donating funds/fleece. No task is too small and can really make a big difference.
[From Amanda: As if her work with Warm Blanket Hugs wasn’t enough, it is also important to Olivia to share how she is #ThrivingWithEpilepsy. Check out her blog to learn more.]