Blanket-making helps patients stay warm

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Darvina Emmerich and Chris Mabon hope to wrap cancer patients in love, one blanket at a time.

The two women are the founders of the Wrapped in Love Foundation Inc., which provides warm blankets to cancer patients undergoing treatment.

Ms. Emmerich of Bridgeville had wanted for years to do something in memory of her husband, James, who died of cancer in 1997. After she met Ms. Mabon, who is also a widow, in a class, she received the encouragement she needed to achieve her dream.

When Ms. Emmerich's husband was receiving chemotherapy treatments, he was often cold, she said. Intravenous chemo drugs are often refrigerated, and cancer patients are always asking for blankets, she said.

After incorporating their nonprofit foundation in February, the two women began to collect quilts, crocheted afghans and "no sew" acrylic fleece blankets to distribute to cancer patients. They designed a tote bag with a photo of Ms. Emmerich's granddaughter, Addison Hope, on it, to deliver the blankets in.

They gathered a "blanket brigade," of volunteers who meet twice a month at St. Winifred Church, Mt. Lebanon.

Volunteers so far have ranged from a 10-year-old Girl Scout to two women in their 90s. On Monday, the women displayed a medium purple afghan with end squares of medium purple, mint green and rose crocheted by Helen Homa, 91, of Carnegie.

So far, the group has donated around 60 blankets to cancer patients at St. Clair Hospital in Mt. Lebanon and to the Hillman Cancer Center, who distribute them to patients.

Since they don't have enough blankets for all the patients at Hillman, the center raffles the blankets, Ms. Emmerich said.

Patients are really excited to receive them, the women said.

Ms. Mabon said the number of blankets they make is limited only by the number of volunteers and donations they receive. They are looking for additional volunteers to meet at St. Winifred.

The women are also looking for members of Boy Scout, Girl Scout or Brownie troops, church youth groups, high school clubs, sports teams, fraternities and sororities who want to do community service, and for visitors to senior citizen centers to make more blankets or hold fundraisers for the charity.

Blankets donated must be clean, washable and made of new materials. They should be 50-by-60 inches long, and can be made of cotton, acrylic or fleece. People donating a blanket can write a note to the patient, and children in the family donating the blanket can send a drawing with it, Ms. Mabon said.

A blanket-making group is also being started by Linda Sheariss, a librarian at Crafton Public Library. For more information, call 412-922-6877.

To donate materials or to make blankets, call Ms. Emmerich at 412-983-7274, or call Ms. Mabon at 412-341-9291. Monetary donations to buy blanket materials can be sent to the Wrapped in Love Foundation Inc., P.O. Box 13486, Pittsburgh15243.


Anne Cloonan, freelance writer: .


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