B'ville: Keeping children warm this winter

Renee Storiale encourages her students to get involved.

As site coordinator for the YMCA childcare program at Ray Middle School, Storiale and her students recently finished a service-learning project that resulted in 13 blankets, which will be donated to Project Linus, an organization that collects and distributes blankets to needy children.

"All coordinators are responsible for coordinating daily activities and Renee is passionate about community service," said Lesley Grants, the school age director for the Greater Baldwinsville YMCA.

The project was born after Storiale invited Wenda Coburn to talk with the children about volunteerism and activism. Coburn also introduced the children to a no-sew blanket-making project, and then generously donated fabric so the children could get to work.

To make the blankets, the group lined up two pieces of fleece fabric then cut each piece to the same size. Then they cut strips along the edges of the blankets and tied each strip from one piece to the corresponding strip on the second piece.

"At first we cut thick and short strips and they were hard to tie. We then learned to cut [the strips] long and thin," Storiale said.

Working an hour a day, children typically finished the blankets in three days. Many worked together to complete the project with some making one blanket with a partner and others making a couple of blankets.

"It was a community effort in the end because the kids helped each other finish," Storiale said adding that the project built upon a class she took at Syracuse University called quilts and community, which had a theme of quilting builds community. "Our kids can build that community and give back to their community."

The children clearly enjoyed the project.

"I worked on this one all by myself," said Mariah Armstrong, a sixth grader. "I like to do creative stuff. I feel proud of myself when I finish. [Donating the quilts to Project Linus] will be nice." Mariah added she wouldn't want to keep the blanket if it meant someone else would suffer. "I would rather give it to them."

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