Simmons Middle School students in Aberdeen tie blankets for cancer patients
Battling cancer is an uphill battle and when the temperatures drop outside, it's very easy for the fighter's attitude to drop as well. However, a group of Aberdeen Middle Schoolers are hoping to keep cancer patients warm and spirits high.
All it takes is a couple dozen snips, followed by a few knots, and you've got yourself a fleece blanket.
"The kids just take over, they know how to cut and tie, they really take over and we just supervise and watch." Said group advisor Kris McCafferty.
This bunch of blanket builders is called Youth Power and is made up entirely of Simmons Middle Schoolers.
"Our goal is to try and do 100 and we've probably done about 40 already this year." Said seventh-grader Bradi Heinz.
They aren't doing this for a grade, this is the kids' way of taking care of those in the community that need help and hope the most. People like R. Lee Ginsbach, who are spending these cold months in a chemo chair.
"You get tired and there's some side effects, one of them is you get sensitive to cold and that's why these blankets are really wonderful!" Said Ginsbach.
The idea for the blankets came from the group's leader Sue Gapp, who experienced those symptoms first hand, during her victory over breast cancer.
"Yes, I did have breast cancer and I will be cancer free 10 years in January!" Said Gapp.
The kids spent most of November and December tying knots in fleece. All during their free time.
Then over the holidays, a few group members played Santa and personally delivered their handiwork to folks undergoing treatment at the Avera St. Luke's Cancer Center.
"They're just so appreciative and you think it's just a little lap blanket that's tied together but to them it means a lot." Said Gapp.
"It's always nice to know that somebody else is thinking of you. It's especially nice to come here, the people who work here are wonderful people and that's always nice, it's kind of like a family here." Said Ginsbach.
"Yeah it feels really good! Especially the expressions on their face when you give then their blanket it's really heartwarming." Said seventh-grader Sam Geffre.
Medicine is important but attitude plays a tremendous role in overcoming cancer. While they are just a couple sheets of fleece, these blankets are bringing warmth and color to the healing process; not to mention a little bit of joy.
"I think it says a lot about the kids they are not getting school credit it's completely them just volunteering thinking of other people and I think it just really teaches in a life lesson to think of others." Said Keri Satrang, a nurse at Avera St. Luke's Cancer Center.
"I just wish we would have started this a little earlier this could have been going much sooner and I hope it goes on for much longer." Said Geffre.
With a legacy of care well established at Simmons, you can bet this "Fleece Navidad" will definitely continue.
The Youth Power group purchased most of the fleece through different fundraisers during the year but group leaders say several generous fleece donations have also been made. For more information just call 877-AT-AVERA.