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Saint Francis University Blanket Collection a Success

June 4, 2020 Tags: Community Engagement and Outreach

The Saint Francis University Community Blanketeer group recently collected more than 200 beautiful quilted, crocheted, knitted, and embroidered blankets that will be distributed to sick and needy children through the Healing Patch, Nurse Family Partnership (Home Nursing Agency), and to residents at Amber Hills and Cambria Care Center. We have been active on campus since 2006, and over the past twelve years have donated more than 2,045 blankets to local children in need in Cambria and Blair Counties and surrounding areas. 

Blanketeers donation 2020  

Top Photo: (Very Rev.) Malachi Van Tassel, T.O.R., Ph.D., University President; Melody Ray, Home Nursing Agency Volunteer Coordinator/Grief Specialist, and Melita O’Donnell, SFU Blanket Project Coordinator. Bottom photos: residents from Amber Hills and Cambria Care Center enjoying the comfort and warmth of their blankets.

Each year our blanketeers focus on creating comfy, soft blankets for babies and young children. Last year, the blanket collection was extended to include lap blankets for the elderly. Thanks to local community blanketeers from Altoona, Cresson, Ebensburg, Johnstown, Loretto, Patton, and Portage for contributing to this year’s blanket collection, and to Mary Hoover and Clare Ann Lasinsky for sewing the blanketeer tags on each blanket. It is through the generous efforts of so many individuals that this year’s blanket collection was so successful!

The Saint Francis group was formed by Dr. Robin L. Cadwallader, Professor of English/ Communications and Women’s Studies, and Dr. Margaret A. Kealey, Associate Professor of Business/Finance, with the assistance of Ms. Melita O’Donnell, Executive Assistant/Academic Affairs.

Over the past few years, the Healing Patch has distributed the blankets in "comfort bags" along with various other items (i.e. tissues, a memory book, a picture frame, a teddy bear, etc.) to children following the death of a loved one.  Additionally, the blankets have been distributed to Healing Patch participants during program activities centered around fears, worries, sleeping issues, etc. and sent home to provide comfort during the difficulties and isolation throughout the nighttime hours . . . a common struggle for many young children during illness or following the death of a loved one.

Providing free, comprehensive educational, homecare, & mentoring services to first-time mothers, Nurse-Family Partnership® registered nurses will distribute blankets to newborns and toddlers within the program.  These special blankets will be used for warm swaddling, tummy play time, and creating cozy, snuggles with Mom or Dad.  

This past year, with the assistance of Keana Bertocci Myers, Activities Director at Cambria Care Center, blankets were distributed to residents at Cambria Care Center and Amber Hills. The lap blankets provided comfort and warmth during times when most needed. 

For additional information regarding the Saint Francis University Community Blanketeers, please contact Melita O’Donnell at

Founded in 1847, Saint Francis University is the oldest Franciscan institution of higher learning in the country and one of the oldest Catholic colleges in the nation.

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