July 20th, 2024

Students warming those in need with ‘Blankets of Hope’

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on February 17, 2024.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman Children of St. Martha school students create messages of hope to be distributed to those less fortunate along with a blanket, during a Blankets of Hope assembly Friday at the school's gymnasium.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Students at Children of St. Martha School are spreading warmth with “Blankets of Hope” not only warm the less fortunate with a blanket, but also to warm their spirits with kind messages.

Blankets of Hope is a movement of kindness that was initiated by Brooklyn brothers Mike and Nick Fiorito in 2016. What started as a family project to spread some warmth to those living on the streets of New York City, has evolved into a global movement.

Kindergarten teacher Laurie McIntosh, said Friday the school has been blessed to be the only school in Canada to receive the blankets.

“This year we’re the only school in Canada once again to receive the blankets for free. We received 240 blankets to which a note of hope will be attached, each written by someone in our school community,” said McIntosh.

Those messages were written Friday after students watched a video provided by the Fiorito brothers, in which they asked the students to imagine what it would be like living in the streets and receiving a blanket with a note attached to it.

“The kids will attach the notes to the blankets, give them a nice last squeeze full of hope, and then they’ll be passed on to those who need them,” said McIntosh.

She explained the blankets will be distributed through multiple organizations that are involved with the less fortunate in the community, while some of the blankets will be distributed among people that are known to some of the students, who unfortunately are no longer part of their lives, and who need them as well.

“We just like to embrace this time and just really show love and empathy, not just to people we don’t know, but also to those who maybe aren’t part of our students’ lives anymore.”

One of the organizations that will distribute Blankets of Hope to those less fortunate is the Sage Clan. A representative was at the school to witness the process before receiving the blankets for distribution.

Sage Clan’s Brandon Barungan spoke to the Herald while the students created their messages of hope and said there were two distinct benefits from the blankets to those who will receive them.

“First of all, the very real and physical benefit of having a blanket when it’s cold out,” said Barungan. “A blanket means a lot for each individual person that’s out there. And secondly, as much as the Sage Clan does, we do more together with the backing of the broader community.”

He said since not everyone is able or has the time to come out and pull a wagon, these gestures and efforts that are made by members of the community really make a difference.

“We feel hopeful for the future of this community. I think people are starting to catch on that it’s not just a nameless figure hunched over walking down the sidewalk, but that’s somebody’s brother, sister, mom or dad.”

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