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Homemade Blankets Knit Bonds With Mom, Prisoners, Foster Kids

COLUMBUS, Ohio—The click of needles and the creak of a rocking chair were the comforting sounds made by a local mom for her young children: knit, purl, knit, purl—hundreds of stitches would end up connected to each other as blankets for her toddlers aged 1, 2 and 3. That was ten years ago, and when those blankets were done, Jessica Hollins wasn’t ready to stop.

“And I was just sitting there knitting and I thought, ‘I could knit this for a child in foster care,‘ and I thought, ‘Oh, that’s a good idea,‘“ she told NBC 4‘s Colleen Marshall.

That year she gave 84 blankets to local case workers. “And they said this is really needed. these kids really don’t have a blanket of their very own,“ Hollins said. “And I thought, ‘Oh, what if I ask other people to help me do this?‘“

That’s how “My Very Own Blanket” was born. Hollins found volunteers among church groups, Girl Scouts, grandmothers, retirees, and service organizations. They used donated materials to stitch a symbol of warmth for foster kids who were venturing from an unstable, but known, home situation into a stranger’s care.

“The kids that have really been affected by this the most, Colleen, are the teenagers, because they are the ones that have been in the system the longest. They have the biggest, thickest walls built around them,“ Hollins said.

And now, some of the 20,000 blankets that have gone to kids in all 88 counties come from behind thick walls—and barbed wire. They are made by volunteers at the Marysville Prison for Women.  Many of the inmates left children behind, and some of them are in foster care.

“If I could do something positive, what would I do?  That’s a question I asked myself from the time I got in here,“ a prisoner said. “Just that one little thing letting him know that someone cares could make a difference in what someone becomes as an adult.“

Now a dozen prisoners help make blankets.

“I hope that someday if I do have kids and they ended up in foster care that someone would have the heart to do something for them,“ a prisoner said.

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